Although the lockdown has adversely affected all the industries across the globe, one business that seems to be thriving in Mumbai is that of illegal construction.
Masook Shafi , a resident of Crystal tower situated just opposite to F(south) ward at Prabhadevi confirmed that after nearly two years, BMC has replied to his letter in which he had complained about illegal construction in the tower. There was a fire at the Crystal Tower on August 22, 2018, in which four people had died and 14 were injured. Bhoiwada police had at that time registered an FIR against builder Razak Supariwala. But even post this he constructed illegal structures and sold the 8th and 16th floored Refugee Area. In spite of repeated complaints by Shafi no action was taken until the Cabinet minister intervened.
An NGO situated at Vasil Khan Marg, Nagpada, Diamond Samaj Seva Sangh’s president Irfan Mansuri told us that the builder of Ali Tower situated at Arab Galli Naka, Grant Road has sold the two floors meant for parking space to different offices. BMC has slapped an MRTP to Ali Towers, but no action has been taken.
Mansuri also informed that Fatima Apartment, situated in Ghas Galli, Agripada, has the permission for seven floors but the building has gone up to 10th floor. According to him, the builder and BMC nexus has helped him build the extra floors. “Now the building is not getting Occupation Certificate and due to which the residents have to pay double the water bill as compared to the normal legal building’s residents. We have complained about the irregularities to the BMC officials but no action has been taken,” said Mansuri.
The 8000- square feet structure of Hotel Hometown and Sion Steel on Sion-Kurla LBS road is built on encroached collector land. Here a ground-floor structure is converted into a two-floor illegal hotel of 64 rooms. Mazgaon-based NGO, Adarsh Samaj Seva Sangh, has complained to BMC and the collector regarding this. After the BMC sent them a notice, the contractors managed to get a stay order. Bmc issued a stop-work notice but the contractors managed to get a stay from Collector (city) Arun Abhang. Post that, the second floor was built. Abhang said: “The complaint is with us. I will complete the hearing and take strict legal action.”
Maharashtra Cabinet minister Aslam Shaikh, who is also the guardian minister for Mumbai city, recently received numerous complaints of illegal constructions happening during the lockdown in BMC’s A, B, C, D, E, F (south and north) and G wards. Taking note of this, the minister had asked the BMC to submit a list of all such constructions done during the last few months. “Nearly two weeks back I had verbally asked the BMC Officials to give the information about all the illegal constructions done during the pandemic. I am yet to receive any reply from them. I will wait for a week and then ask for a written explanation,” said Shaikh.
When asked, additional commissioner of BMC, Sanjay Jaiswal said that he was on leave and has just resumed work, and is not aware of Shaikh’s enquiry. “I will look into the matter and do the needful,” he said.