New violation cracks show up on Santacruz complex

Apr 17, 2012, 07:54 IST | Shailesh Bhatia

After allegations of unpaid govt dues against builders of Dheeraj Heritage, MiD DAY finds out that toilet blocks, service ducts, passages etc were illegally converted into shops; harried shop owners seek original floor plans

After the detailed inspection carried out by the BMC of the five-storey Dheeraj Heritage, a prime commercial complex situated at the Milan Subway junction on SV Road, Santacruz (W), allegations of gross construction violations and manipulations of civic norms seem to be multiplying, putting a question mark on the livelihood and life’s savings of some 385 shop owners.

Fate uncertain: Unit holders allege they were not even aware of the fact that their shop was actually meant to be a toilet or a service duct as per the BMC approved plan 

After reporting about attachment notices put up at the complex’s office (see box), MiD DAY now has in its possession the official BMC report dated April 7, 2012, compiled a week after the BMC’s Building and Factory (BAF) department scrutinised the structure for alleged unauthorised additions/alterations. The report confirms that over 23 toilet blocks, service ducts, passages and air-handling unit (AHU) rooms on all the floors have been illegally converted into shops or amalgamated with adjoining commercial units, before being sold. There is also a hotel-cum-lodge on the fifth floor. The BAF department, the report states, would take necessary actions against the irregularities.

MiD DAY also has acquired two different development plans for the same floor, allegedly submitted by the builder and even accepted by the SRA in October 2003. Aftab Siddique, who owns two units in the complex, stated that the fight of the unit holders — many have either taken loans or invested their life’s earning to acquire shops here — is to ensure that they are not left high and dry. “We have correspondence from the BMC and the SRA, where all the irregularities have been pointed out since 2006. It was inaction on their part which has resulted in a situation where we stand to lose everything,” she said.

Siddique added that the worst thing was that many of the unit holders are still not aware of the fact that their shop was actually meant to be a toilet or a service duct as per the approved plan. Anxiety has gripped the shopkeepers here, who are scrambling to lay their hands on the originally approved floor plan, she said. When contacted, S Zende, chief executive officer, of the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA), stated that he was not aware of the Dheeraj Heritage case as it was handled by his subordinates or the BMC ward office concerned.

Anil Dhiver, assistant engineer, building proposal, stated that he was on leave and not in a position to comment. He directed us to his sub engineer, who in turn stated that he was not authorised to speak to the press. 

Back story
Earlier, in two articles, MiD DAY had reported about the attachment notices put up at the office of Dheeraj Heritage, to recover dues amounting to over Rs 5.82 crore owed by the structure’s developers, Housing Development and Improvement India Ltd (HDIL), Pioneer India Developers Ltd and M/s Chauhan and Bros to the BMC. The notice states that if full payment, including recovery costs, is not made to the BMC within the stipulated time, the property shall be sold and all further sale/leasing of shops by owners will be put a halt to. MiD DAY has a copy of the SRA balance sheet issued by its executive engineer, which says that the total dues owed are to the tune of Rs 18.64 crore for the entire development project in Santacruz (W) in and around the bus depot. It includes 17 SRA buildings and 6 saleable residential complexes (one under construction), which could end up with a similar fate.

The other side
Ranjit Jha, site engineer and company spokesperson for Dheeraj Heritage, categorically denied that there are any irregularities in the commercial complex. “Initially, we had offices planned in the basement, which were eventually modified and new plans submitted to obtain occupation certificate. This has led to some confusion, nothing else.” Jha added that they have been paying taxes to the tune of Rs 1.20 crore annually and there are no pending bills from the time the building was handed over to the members in 2010 and a managing committee was officially formed. 

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