Mumbai: The ground-plus 16-storey high rise Crystal Tower at Parel, a redevelopment project building, is located just opposite the BMC F-South ward office. The building has existed right under the nose of the BMC; yet it had never been granted an Occupational Certificate. So, it was for all intents and purposes, an unauthorised occupation. This was confirmed by the Assistant Commissioner and ward officer, Kishore Desai, to the Free Press Journal.
The BMC had even issued a notice for unauthorised occupation way back in October 2016 under the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act. (As per the notice — a copy of which is with the FPJ — the building has been occupied without having been certified as completed, as per provisions of the Act). After the residents, developer and architect failed to respond to the notice, the building department launched prosecution proceedings against them. This matter is pending in the Shindewadi court at Parel.
Desai says the residents also failed to provide the required NOCs from various departments such as Estates, the Chief Fire Officer, the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority, the Public Works Department and the Storm Water and Drain department. The property tax dues are also pending. Apart from not getting the requisite permissions, the building society also failed to fulfil several criteria, including rainwater harvesting and composting.
The BMC has also accused the builder of modifying the building design plans, thereby violating civic rules. The Ward officer claims that in the last one year they have found several illegal constructions in the building. “The refuge area, which has to be kept free, has been encroached upon. The builder has constructed an apartment in that place. They also constructed a godown in the parking area; these structures were demolished only after notices were issued in 2016- 2017,” said Desai.
One of the original residents, Salomi Hyams, a 68-year-old woman, admitted that the residents were aware that the building had no OC, but claims that they had no choice but to stay on. “Ours is a redevelopment project and our builder Supariwala had not given us rent, so that we could live elsewhere. So, we had no option and were forced to take possession of our flats,” said Hyams. Now, this building is to be vacated within seven days.
Another resident, Gunratan Sadavarte, said that due to the conflict between the builder and the various authorities, the residents were helpless for want of an OC. “Yes, we too are responsible for the mess that we are in today. But the building society has yet not been constituted. The property tax is yet to be paid by the builder; since he has not cleared the pending dues, the OC has not been granted.”