Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to decide expeditiously on a complaint by two senior citizens that some flat owners of a 33-storey Kingston Tower CHS in Parel east have encroached on its refuge areas.
A bench of Justices Sunil Shukre and Rajesh Patil, on August 18, directed the BMC to conduct an inspection of the Tower to verify the allegations in the petition.
The HC was hearing a petition filed by Parshuram Jadhav and his wife Nutan, who reside on the 29th floor the Kingston Tower. There are refuge areas on the 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th floors. The plea alleges that some residents have amalgamated the refuge areas into their flats. They contended that they initially lodged a complaint with the BMC, the fire-brigade and the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) however, no action has been taken.
Jadhavs have referred to fires breaking out in towers in Mumbai, in their plea, and urged the HC to direct authorities to take action against encroachers of refuge areas and to restore them as per the sanctioned plan.
The building was constructed under a SRA scheme. SRA granted an OC in April 2013 but only till the 26th floor.
Refugee Areas Modified In Flats
In June-July 2016, the managing committee of the society learnt that flats above this level were sold by the developer. They were surprised to learn that duplex flats on 28th and 29th floors had brought the refuge areas into the flats and those on the 32nd and 33rd floors had blocked access to the common terrace. Similarly, occupants of duplex flats on the 7th, 8th, 14th, 15th, 21st and 22nd floors had amalgamated the refuge areas into their flats.
The society pointed out the violations to the BMC in 2016 and even the chief fire officer, but no action was taken. On December 20, 2021, the society wrote to BMC commissioner Iqbal Chahal seeking his intervention.
Their advocates argued that the purpose of a refuge area is to meet any contingency arising from an untoward incident arising out of events beyond the control of human beings.
The judges noted that the petition's purpose would be served if the BMC was directed to look into the society's complaint of August 17, 2016 which alleged encroachment some flat purchasers.
"If such is the nature of the complaint, the Corporation would have ... find out if there are any such facts as alleged... in existence and if so the Corporation would have to take an appropriate decision," the HC said.
The civic body has been directed to decide the society's complaint in accordance with law and preferably within two weeks from the date of appearance of the petitioners and also the encroachers.
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