Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi: If BMC doesn't respond now... I'll take this up with PM Modi'
Says author Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi, after civic body ignores his complaints against posh Juhu building that is allegedly converting parking space into residential space
"I have been gently going about this for ten years. Now, the hand is on the trigger," said renowned author and Juhu resident Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi, regarding the alleged illegal construction going on in the building Pinnacle Dreams that he has been writing to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) about for a decade. While BMC is clueless about Shanghvi's letters, the owner of the building has rubbished the allegations.
For over a decade, Shanghvi - who resides in a building located next to Pinnacle Dreams - has been regularly writing to the K west ward office, urging them to look into the construction going on in the neighbouring building.
Pinnacle Dreams, a ground-plus-eight-storey structure located opposite actor Amitabh Bachchan's bungalow Jalsa, was allegedly given demolition orders but nothing was done in the matter. Shanghvi claims the parking space in the building is being turned into residential space by its residents. The building, constructed about 12 years ago, had permission for vertical parking, which meant that every floor - that has only one apartment - would get a separate parking space. However, there was no elevator for the vehicles, which is why the demolition order was issued, claimed Shanghvi.
Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi
Why protect the rich?
Shanghvi had also raised the issue about the parking space being closed off by a glass facade. Speaking to mid-day, he said, "I have chosen to speak up now because I have felt, as millions of other Mumbaikars do, disrespected and insulted by the BMC. When I sent them letters addressing the violations, none were answered. It's as if BMC sees the hawkers and goes out and demolishes their stalls, but they don't see the violations of the super rich - as it is in the case of Pinnacle Dreams. What is this desire to protect the rich? Where does it stem from?"
He added, "I have nothing against the building or any of its occupants, but they must understand that I am only another ordinary citizen who is now tired of their brazen illegal conversions which have taken a toll on my health and my mind space. The repairs are endless. The process is dirty, and exhausting to live beside. This is why I have spoken up. If BMC does not respond now, I have the wherewithal to take an audience with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and show him how common citizens like myself live in an India that he promised to make corruption-free. I have been gently going about this for ten years. Now, the hand is on the trigger." In his last letter to BMC, sent in October 2018, he mentioned that they should look into the building as construction was being carried out despite the issuance of a demolition order.
BMC, meanwhile, does not have a clue. When mid-day spoke to assistant municipal commissioner of K West ward, Prashant Gaikwad, he said, "I am not aware of the issue. I will check with the staff concerned about the status of the complaint and why it has gone unanswered." Officials of BMC's Building Proposal department did not respond to requests for getting details about the alleged demolition orders. An officer from the department said, "This is an old file and the details are not handy. It will take time to be retrieved."
The owner of the building, Kumar V Shah, flatly denied the allegations. He told mid-day, "Based on the complaint made by some person, BMC had visited our building around two years ago and they have already carried out an inspection. All I want to say is that the matter is sub judice in Dindoshi court, and the allegations that we are now carrying out illegal construction in the building are baseless. The work of painting and repairing the glass facade and tiles, which were going to fall, is being done and no work related to any structural changes or alteration is being carried out at all."
'Trying to defame building'
A resident of the building said, "I bought a flat in the building a few months ago and prior to that, my lawyer had checked all the documents pertaining to the property. There is a case related to the building that is sub judice and my lawyer said that the case might turn in our favour. I feel someone is deliberately trying to defame the building." Asked about the allegations regarding the illegal conversion of the parking space, the resident said, "The glass facade of the building is in bad shape and before it collapses and falls, it is being repaired. The building is also being waterproofed and painted, but no structural altercation is being made at all."
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