Did BMC allow illegal alterations to this South Mumbai building?

Sep 30, 2014, 06:23 IST | Chetna Yerunkar

According to an RTI activist, the civic body has turned a blind eye to a host of structural changes made on the tenth floor of Parekh Market building at Opera House

If a Right to Information (RTI) activist is to be believed, officials of the BMC are colluding with the owner of a building in Opera House and turning a blind eye to the host of structural changes he has made on one of its floors. Last year, in Parekh Market building, the owner started refurbishing the tenth floor.

Parekh Market building in Opera House
Parekh Market building in Opera House

Walls were broken down, wooden partitions were put up and spaces blocked in the commercial building. Jeetendra Ghadge, an activist who owns a tea stall below the building, smelled a rat and filed an RTI application to know if the owner had secured the necessary permissions to make those changes.

The BMC, in its reply, wrote that the owner didn’t have the necessary approvals to alter the structure and that they had sent a stop work notice to the owner, C K Parekh. The owner then contended that he was making changes as per plans approved in 1999. Attaching this correspondence, the civic body wrote to Ghadge that the work was legal.

Hot pursuit
Not satisfied, the 30-year-old filed another application, asking for all approved plans. He was shocked when the BMC told him they had lost the plans approving the alterations in 1999, and only had the original plans from 1978.

When Ghadge wrote back asking how such changes were allowed without the approved plans, the civic body, in its response, sent him a copy of the occupation certificate for the tenth floor and the floor plan.

The activist wrote a letter demanding to know how these documents had been obtained, to which the civic official answered that they were procured from Parekh. Ghadge then shot off a letter to Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte last month, pointing out these irregularities in the D ward office. However, Kunte is yet to reply to his complaint.

Ghadge, said, “I fail to understand how they gave the building a clean chit. Earlier, BMC claimed they did not have the documents, and later said everything is fine because they have the plans from the owner himself!” Ghadge alleged that BMC officials are corrupt and are colluding with the builder to allow him to get away with such illegalities.

He also alleged that the BMC officials do not register FIRs when files go missing, as they are supposed to do, but instead get missing certificates from the police, which serve no purpose. Attempts to contact the owner, C K Parekh, yielded no results.

BMC speak
Assistant Municipal Commissioner (D ward) Parag Masurkar said, “We have the documents that show the occupation certificate issued to the tenth floor of Parekh Market. We also inspected the building and upon finding certain (unapproved) alterations, sent a show-cause notice. Now, everything is being done according to the plans approved in 1999.”

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