MUMBAI: At a time the BMC is preparing to demolish unauthorized flats in Worli’s Campa Cola society, experts say the authorities continue to turn a blind eye to other building violations in the city.
A controversial building on Pali Hill, Bandra, has been allowed to be occupied though it does not have an occupation certificate (OC). The same is the case with another plush residential tower at Nepean Sea Road where many buyers have moved in despite no OC. The building is believed to have violated coastal regulation zone (CRZ) norms. Elsewhere, developers continue to misuse fire refuge areas and sell them illegally as part of flats. In one upcoming residential tower in central Mumbai, a builder has constructed 8,000 sq ft of fire refuge area on each floor with an intention to sell the space later.
“What will the Campa Cola demolition achieve? If there was some wisdom to be gained and translated into robust procedures to nip such violations in the bud by demolishing additional floors in Campa Cola, then by all means this should be done. But such does not seem to be the case,” said environmental activist Rishi Aggarwal.
He said one way of handling such violations is making public disclosure of the plans and layouts of each new construction on a ward-wise basis. “All such information should be displayed online. This will enable activists, vigilance authorities and others to bring irregularities to notice. It will act as a big deterrent for architects and builders. Buyers will also have peace of mind.”
Real estate expert Pranay Vakil rued the lack of natural justice in the Campa Cola case. “One cannot transfer the entire blame on to the buyer. To punish buyers alone is not fair. Levy a penalty on them, but do not evict them from their homes,” he said.
Former advocate general Ravi Kadam said flat buyers aren’t always well-educated and well-informed. “Since the government has announced a new housing regulator, it should be obligatory for builders to get approvals from him before advertising flat sales. Any breach should invite criminal consequences and hefty fines.”
Housing activist Chandrashekhar Prabhu said the Campa Cola case should be a warning to all flat buyers against dealing with builders with dubious reputations. “The residents knew about the underworld antecedents of some of those involved in the project.”
Builder Sunil Mantri said developers should not get involved with unauthorised work at all, however profitable it may be. I expect stringent checks by authorities; architects should be empowered to approve building plans. For buyers, we need to create a mechanism like an insurance where they can be protected against such malpractices,” he said.