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5 yrs on, BMC yet to take back prime Juhu plot from builder

  • 8 Jan 2016
  • Hindustan Times (Mumbai)
  • Laxman Singh

5 yrs on, BMC yet to take back prime Juhu plot from builder

MUMBAI: A prime 4,500-squaremetre plot in Juhu’s Barfiwala lane that could fetch up to Rs600 crore if developed was declared a slum and handed over to a private developer by the BMC, which has done nothing to get the land back more than five years after it decided to do so.

Now an internal audit of the BMC has criticised the inaction on the part of the civic body, which it said appeared deliberate, and called the original deal illegal. In fact, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis himself as an opposition MLA in 2013 had sought a probe into the whole issue.

In 2010 itself, a couple of years after the deal was struck, the BMC had, following complaints, decided to take the plot back and had valued the land alone at Rs135 crore.

The plot reserved for municipal housing falls under the jurisdiction of the Andheri ward office of the BMC. It is occupied by 56 families of sweeper staff of the civic body.

The controversy dates back to 2008-09 when top civic officials allowed inclusion of this plot (survey number 207) in a slum redevelopment project involving four adjoining private plots (survey numbers 208 to 211), which had slums on them.

Plot no 207 was declared a slum in 2009 and included in t he redevelopment project under the Slum Rehabilitation Authority being undertaken by Darshan Developers. Sources said the officials involved did not take the statutory permissions from the civic improvements committee and t he general body of elected representatives.

However, after activists and some corporators raised objections, in October 2010 the BMC agreed to revoke the NoC (no-objection certificate) given for the slum redevelopment project on the plot.

However, nothing has happened so f ar other than the officials concer ned tossing the file from one civic office to another.

Pravin Satra of Darshan Developers Private Limited chose not to comment. “We have nothing to do with the project now since it is taken over by another group,” he said.

In a recent inquiry conducted by it, the civic body’s TAVO (test, audit and vigilance officer) wing, called illegal the decision to declare the municipal staff quarters a slum. In its October 2015 report, the TAVO again suggested immediate cancellation of all the permissions given for the slum project. The inquiry was conducted after a complaint by activist Sayyad Haider Imam of ‘ Ghar Bachao, Ghar Banao” organisation.

TAVO pointed that though the civic body decided to cancel the project in 2010, in the next three years no attempt was made to delete the slum tag. The proposal of cancellation was to be put up before the civic chief for taking a final decision but this was not done. There have been “deliberate” delays by the department concer ned in putting up t he proposal before t he BMC commissioner, said the TAVO report. The developer did not have the ownership of plot number 211 where the residents were to be shifted and was misleading civic body, said the report.

Asked about the delay, Assistant Municipal Commissioner, K- -west (Andheri), Parag Masurkar, said, “After TAVO’s report, I put up, in November 2015, the proposal before higher authorities for further decision. Once it is cleared by them, a letter will be sent to SRA.”

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