Mumbai: The Crystal Tower fire tragedy, in which four people died, has exposed the dep-seated nexus between builders and various agencies like the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. In the lurch are hapless tenants who continue to reside in buildings without occupancy certificates (OCs). Shockingly, there are 56,000 such buildings in Mumbai. A part of the problem is that any move to make builders and architects liable for prosecution for flats which are handed over to buyers without Occupation Certificate may make lakhs of residents across Mumbai homeless.
None other than the Shiv Sena, the party which presides over the BMC, has claimed there are many more Crystal Towers in the city. Yashwant Jadhav, chairman of the standing committee, told The Free Press Journal they would raise the issue at the next committee meeting. He further added, “In south Mumbai, there are many buildings which only have OCs for up to ten storeys, the rest being illegal. Yet, they continue to build floors with impunity beyond the permissible limit.”
Jadhav admitted civic officials need to look into this matter immediately. “We will ask our officials to formulate a policy or put in place the ground rules to regulate the issue of OC.” Arvind Sawant, Member of Parliament from South Mumbai constituency, said he had previously raised this issue with BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta. Since developers do not apply for OCs, the BMC is unable to claim parking or other facilities which it expects from the developer in exchange for the benefits it provides in the form of extra Floor Space Index and Transfer Development Rights, Mehta told Sawant.
This anomalies can be addressed only by amending section 353-A of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888, which deals with occupancy certificates, Mehta said. The BMC chief did not respond to repeated calls and messages on what action the corporation proposes to take against builders who sold flats before obtaining an OC, thereby jeopardising the lives of these residents.