Thursday, May 2, 2013

Garden illegally scrapped, its FSI given to VIP societies: Activists

Mumbai: New violations have surfaced at two Worli housing societies that are home to top politicians, with activists saying a public garden was de-reserved to increase floors without requisite permissions from the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) and the civic body.

The Sukhada and Shubhada societies are already in the spotlight for notices sent by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to some residents, from deputy CM Ajit Pawar to BJP leader Gopinath Munde, for illegal alterations and conversion of shops into offices and gyms.

In the garden case, the BMC had repeatedly requested the urban development department not to go for deletion of the open space reservation. TOI has a copy of the resolution passed by the BMC improvements committee on November 5, 2001, where it stated that the modification would serve no public purpose and would be beneficial only to the developers of adjoining plots.

Despite the objections, the state government agreed to dereserve the garden plot and transfer the floor space index (FSI) to a residential zone.

In a reply to an RTI application filed by activist Amit Maru, it was learnt that the deputy chief engineer of development plan wrote to the secretary of urban development department in 2001, that the land belonged to the estate department of the BMC and the public garden reservation could not be deleted. If deleted, the land could be merged with the adjoining plot only with BMC sanction.

“It was also noted that the land falls within 500 metres of the high tide line and thus is affected with the CRZ notification of 1991,” Maru said. “This is a clear case of corruption and land-grab by politicians. An inquiry should be initiated by the municipal commissioner and the officer hand in glove with politicians should be prosecuted under the Prevention of Corruption Act.”

Lawyer and former IPS officer Y P Singh had filed a legal notice on July 19 last year to the MCZMA chairperson and additional chief secretary, urban development department, stating that there was an illegal FSI grant to the societies.

“Under the CRZ notification there can’t be any change in user or deletion of garden reservation in the CRZ,” he said. “The FSI of a plot can’t be more than what it was on February 19, 1991, the date of CRZ notification. They de-reserved the garden plot and moved its FSI to the neighbouring plot. This was done without permission from the MCZMA and the MoEF.”
Linah Baliga TNN

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