Fire on 7th floor of Matunga building: 3 flats on affected floor had no OC

Sep 24, 2015, 07:00 IST | Tanvi Deshpande

The occupant of this floor has been served several notices in the past by the civic body for illegal alterations; three out of five flats on the 7th floor don’t have BMC’s Occupation Certificates

A fire broke out on the 7th floor of Sadguru Kripa building opposite Matunga Road station on Wednesday morning. The occupant of this floor has been served several notices in the past by the BMC for illegal additions/alterations.

Three of the five flats on this floor did not have an Occupation Certificate but residents continued to stay there. The BMC officials will be there for a panchnama after which the police can file an FIR in the case. The fire broke out at around 10.30 am on Wednesday.

Two fire engines and two water tankers were sent to the spot and it was doused within half an hour. No casualty was reported. Sadguru Kripa — where the fire broke out — is a 10-year-old housing society located next to Ruparel College.

The original building plan had seven floors and a commencement certificate for the same was obtained from the BMC. But after the building was complete, some flats on the seventh floor did not obtain an Occupation Certificate (OC) from the local ward office.

The OC is mandatory for any person to occupy any construction. All five flats on the floor belong to D D Sharma, a businessman. The Building Proposal department sent the owner of the concerned flats a notice under section 353 of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning (MRTP) Act earlier this year after other residents complained.

Similarly, the local ward office inspected all the flats and found that some had been converted from residential to commercial (residential flats were being used to run offices). Besides, there were several illegal additions and alterations to these flats, along with other flats in the building.

A notice to this effect was sent by the ward office in January this year under section 53 (1) of the MRTP Act. “This was followed by several such notices, the latest one being sent on June 2. After that, the residents were given 30 days’ time to reinstate the additions or alterations. When they failed to do that, a second inspection was done in July.

In the last week of August, we asked the police to conduct a panchnama,” said Sachin Mahajan, sub-engineer (Building and Factory department) of G/North ward. When asked what took them so long even after the stipulated 30 days were over, Mahajan said that the concerned residents were given time to do correspondence with the BMC.

Needed, the police
“We have asked the police to do panchnama but currently, with Ganesh Utsav going on, police personnel are not available. I’m sure it will be done soon.

If they feel the need, they can even arrest the concerned owner or occupier,” said Sharad Ughade, assistant commissioner of G/North ward. Although nobody was injured in Wednesday’s fire, other residents of the society have slammed the BMC for inaction.

S C Verma — the developer of the society — said that even though a notice has been issued to him, it is not his responsibility. “How can the BMC hold me accountable if they did not take OC? Law should take its own course… violations are definitely there,” he said.

This reporter, who was at the spot, tried to speak to DD Sharma about the issue, but relatives said he did not want to speak on it. Meanwhile, the civic Building Proposal department did not have an answer to why action was not taken against the illegal occupation for all these months. Officials said they will have to look into the matter.

Resident speak

D S Parab, secretary of the housing society
Thankfully, we could evacuate the entire building in time and nobody was injured. But what if the fire had spread to the other floors? Who is responsible for the illegality? Why didn’t the BMC take action against them all these months?

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