Builder-bureaucrat nexus in Maha rehab scheme

Norms flouted in allotting sites to project affected people

geetanjali

Geetanjali Minhas | March 31, 2011



Sulaiman Bhimani, an interior designer, lost his workshop cum office at Juhu Gulli, Mumbai, to road widening.

In 2005, Maharashtra Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) allotted him a 225 square feet tenement at Somanigram, Oshiwara, in Goregaon West, as part of its Resettlement & Rehabilitation (R&R) projects.

The tenement, located in a seven story building, lacks basic amenities.

There is no system of collection and disposal of sewage and solid waste. The developer, RNA, has put sewage pipes of 6 inches diameter against the standard 12 inches, for a daily discharge of 7-8 lakh litres of water.

Almost every day, the sewage is leaked out and spilled in vicinity instead of it being discharged in the mains,” says Bhimani, 49, one of the 4,500 project-affected-persons (PAPs).  

The builder, RNA, did not keep the prescribed gap of 1.5 meters, necessary between buildings, for safety of plinth and foundation, ventilation and  light .
MMRDA had outsourced development of 32 R&R (56,271 tenements) in Oshiwara to different builders.

In Bhimani’s case, there was tripartite agreement between MMRDA, RNA Corp and MMRDA commissioner. As per the agreement, the developer was supposed to provide onsite infrastructure including roads, street lights, water supply lines, drainage, inspection chambers, septic tanks and storm water drains.

“The developers left their work incomplete and the responsibility fell on MMRDA which is now trying to pass the buck on Municipal Corporation” says Bhimani.
The buildings, constructed in 2005, have developed cracks and gone into repairs.  Residents made complaints within the first year of the two year retention period.

Pointing to the scaffolding around buildings, Bhimani says, “The scheme was not for uplift of poor but for filling the developers' coffers. Contractual obligations of builders have been overlooked and we are paying for this.”

Information obtained by RTI queries reveal that MCGM enabled MMRDA to write off several contractual obligations of 25 builders to provide bare facilities. MMRDA commissioner, Ratnakar Gaikwad  in his letter to MCGM  on 21 Sept 2010, put the same  responsibility  on  the civic body per.

As per the civic body’s estimates, it will cost around Rs 20 crore per colony to provide necessary infrastructure. 

Knowing that RNA was not fulfilling its contractual obligations, MMRDA allowed the developer to go ahead with construction of their commercial component without complete paperwork.

RTI information also reveals that RNA and MMRDA flouted construction norms.

While MMRDA  gave permission to build  ground, plus two, plus 14 stories, RNA  is building  3  basements, 11 floor car parking, one floor of  club house with  amenities like, gymnasium, swimming pool , party hall and 48 residential floors.

RNA Exotica and the commercial building  opposite it,  both  received  Intimation Of Approval ( IOA ) and Commencement  Certificate (CC ) on the same date, i.e., 5 August 2009.

The intimation of approval (IOA) received by RNA Exotica and the commercial building opposite it, mentions various NOCs and approvals from MCGM, chief fire officer and numerous other authorities along with physical and on-site verification by MMRDA’s people for obtaining a commencement certificate (CC). 
Interestingly, the IOA and CC were received by the two buildings the same day.

In violation of the commencement certificate, RNA has enclosed a 25-foot wide and 75 feet long road connecting Somani Gram to Ram Mandir Road, which runs between RNA Exotica (residential) and its 11-storey commercial building.

This land is being used for the companies’ site office and storing materials for which permissions have not been given. Public access is blocked off.

Violating its second condition that says, “No new building or part thereof shall be occupied or used or permitted to be used by any reason until occupancy permission has been granted” RNA runs a plush sales office for the residential flats, complete with conference rooms, in the under-construction building  and even constructed fully-furnished sample flats in the same building.

Bhimani has taken his case to National Human Rights Commission,  Anti Corruption Bureau, Mumbai  Police , MMRDA. Nothing happened.

On March 21, he moved the prime minister’s office which assured him action within a month. 

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