No construction, only rain protection, says Vasant Sagar

Sep 09, 2018, 08:33 IST | A Correspondent

After Churchgate residents allege that building resumed construction work despite Supreme Court order, owners say they were merely covering existing structure during the rains

No construction, only rain protection, says Vasant Sagar
A picture taken on Saturday of Vasant Sagar building. Pic/Atul Kamble

Following claims by the Federation of Churchgate Residents' Association (FCRA) last week that construction had resumed at Vasant Sagar building in violation of Supreme Court (SC) orders, the owners have denied that any building work took place.

mid-day had reported on August 30 that FCRA members had approached the civic body alleging violations of the SC order, which essentially bars any construction work. A spokesperson for Vasant Sagar Properties Pvt. Ltd., however, told mid-day that the owners had only set up a 'tarpaulin' shed on 'the ground floor' and put up a 'temporary structure on the top floor/roof of the unfinished building' to protect the structure during the monsoon.

"There is no construction work which is ongoing at Vasant Sagar," said Vijay Pande of Vasant Sagar Properties Pvt. Ltd. "We, on our part, had put temporary shelter on ground floor, which comprises of tarpaulin shed. And a temporary structure on top floor/roof of the unfinished building to be protected from rainwater. There is no construction we have done of any kind since the last order passed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India." (Sic) Vasant Sagar's owners and other Churchgate residents have been embroiled in a tussle since 2012 over how tall the building could go in the Art Deco precinct. As per the rules in place before 2012, buildings on Marine Drive's Art Deco precinct could go up to 24 metres, irrespective of whether they were in the first or second row.

When Vasant Sagar sought to become a 58-metre building, the matter first went to the BMC, before being escalated to the Bombay High Court, and eventually reached the Supreme Court, which upheld the high court stay on further construction.

Residents last week told mid-day they had approached the BMC with a complaint that construction work had resumed in the building. The FCRA also said they would soon move the SC over the developments. Residents added that they would file applications under the Right to Information Act to obtain relevant information from the A-Ward civic office and the BMC's Building Proposal department.

When mid-day contacted senior civic officials for a comment for last week's report, they had said they would write to the Building Proposal department seeking an explanation.

Back in 2012, the then municipal commissioner Subodh Kumar had given permissions to the owners to build up to 58 metres, beyond the 24 metre-norm prescribed for the rest of the precinct.

In January 2016, the serving municipal commissioner, Ajoy Mehta, recommended in a new set of guidelines that the height of the front-row buildings of Marine Drive could be raised from the existing limit of 24 metres to 32 metres. He also ruled that the limit for second-row buildings behind the Art Deco façade could be raised from 24 metres to 58 metres. Vasant Sagar is a second-row building in its Art Deco precinct.

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