Businessman gives fresh hope to Campa Cola residents

May 16, 2014, 07:05 IST | Chetna Yerunkar

The 37-year-old, through an RTI application, obtained an NOC from 1988 stating that the Midtown apartment had adhered to fire safety norms; document was copied to then executive engineer of Building Proposals department

Help has come from unexpected quarters for residents of the Campa Cola society in Worli. A businessman from south Mumbai has shown them documents which state that the Midtown apartment had received a no objection certificate with respect to fire safety norms from the then Chief Fire Officer (CFO).

With the deadline for vacating their flats set at May 31, residents hope Shah will file a PIL to help save their homes. File pic for representationWith the deadline for vacating their flats set at May 31, residents hope Shah will file a PIL to help save their homes. File pic for representation

This, after the civic authorities claiming that no department of theirs had issued any permissions to the disputed structures. Rajesh Shah, a 37-year-old businessman, received a reply to his RTI application last month.

In the reply, the V P Road resident has received an NOC dated 1988, when the fire department had visited the Midtown apartments in the compound and deemed that the structure was fire-safe.

In 2002, during another visit when there was a fire in the structure, the CFO gave a go-ahead for occupation in the building post inspection. Both these documents were copied to the then executive engineer of the BMC’s Building Proposals department.

In 1958, the BMC had issued a stop work notice at Campa Cola compound. Yet, work did go ahead and architect called upon the fire department in 1988 to do an inspect the 20-storey structure.

It is sheer lack of coordination on part of the two civic departments the fire department was unaware that their colleagues from Building Proposals had issued stop work notice three years ago.

Calling out the BMC’s inefficiency, Shah said, “Why is it that no action is being taken against the executive engineer and the municipal commissioner of that time?

The fire department keeps issuing such NOCs, but the building proposals department doesn’t bother to check on them. The authorities should be ideally responsible for such problems.

Referring to the civic chief’s claims that no one issued any permissions to the structure, Shah said the officials were “hiding facts now.” He added that he would even file a public interest litigation (PIL), if need be. “The BMC cannot fool people like this. The residents have to suffer because of their shoddy work,” he said.

However, Campa Cola residents will have to wait till the next hearing to produce this fresh document as a development in the case, since the courts are shut. “I hope he does file a PIL and helps us save our houses,” she said. Residents have little time left, as the deadline for vacating their homes is May 31.

BMC speak
Mohan Adtani, the additional municipal commissioner, said, “I am not aware of this. As far as the fire department is concerned, they cannot issue OCs. I will have to refer to the documents and comment on why action was not taken.”

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