Mumbai: Defence ministry asked to specify if high-rise can be built in Mazgaon

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has asked the Ministry of Defence to spell out if it would allow construction of a high-rise building near its area in city's Mazgaon dock.

HC has accordingly ordered the ministry to respond to the 'representation' made to it by the tenants of the building, who have proposed to make numerous changes right from converting bedroom windows into 'dead' walls.

A bench of Justices Shahrukh Kathawalla and Riyaz Chagla has asked the MoD to respond by March 26, if the height of the 11-storey building can be further increased and made to a 19 floored structure, as urged by 21 tenants of the building, who are now having no shelter.

According to these original tenants, their building - Laxmi Nivas was given for redevelopment and it was subsequently demolished to construct a brand new 19-storey high-rise. The developers even constructed 11 floors. However, the 'intimation of disapproval' given by the city's civic body to the developers from constructing the high-rise came as a shock to these tenants.

This comes after the Mazgaon Dock Ship Builders Ltd (MDSBL) objected to the construction by its letter written to the BMC in December 2017.

MDSBL expressed its apprehension that the high-rise building may adversely affect the 'sensitive aspects' of the defence facility if adequate precautions are not taken immediately.

Subsequently, a licensed surveyor of the developers was asked to examine the issue. He pointed out that in none of the documents like the IOD, the commencement certificate etc, neither the BMC nor the MHADA mentioned that a no-objection certificate (NOC) was required from MDSBL. The surveyor also pointed out that the land, where the structure would stand was approximately 92.5 metres away from the boundary of the Mazgaon Dock.

Further, even BMC pointed out that unlike other defence areas across Mumbai, there is no 'buffer zone' marked for Mazgaon Dock by the defence ministry.

Subsequently, BMC forwarded a representation of these tenants to the MDSBL wherein, the tenants have undertaken to make several changes in 'plan' of the structure. Styled as 'precautions' the tenants have proposed to remove the windows (as planned) from their two bedrooms (in the building) and have decided to build a 'solid dead wall' instead. As far as their kitchen is concerned, they have decided to retain the window, which is mandatory as per development rules. But now, they have proposed that the window's height would be increased further with 'vision cutters' so as to avoid direct vision of the defence area. Similar changes have been proposed in the toilets.

“The proposed plan clearly shows that from any room, bathroom or terrace there is no direct vision to the defence area, so that privacy will not be disturbed,” tenants claimed. Having considered this, the bench sought to know from the counsel for Mazgaon Dock, the stand of the defence ministry on the issue and adjourned the matter till March 26.

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