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RTI reveals MMRDA’s shady dealings with RNA Builder

22 March 2011, Mumbai: How many ways can a big builder flout the laws, and be allowed to get away with it? RTI activist Sulaiman Bhimani took a long, hard look at RNA Corp’s money-spinning project at Somani Gram, Oshiwara. The lucrative sale component of the Slum-Rehabilitation project consists of a residential building called RNA Exotica, and also an 11-storey commercial building very close to it. And what did he find? Strange goings-on between builder RNA Corp and MMRDA (Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Corporation, until recently headed by Ratnakar Gaikwad, who is currently the Chief Secretary of Maharashtra).

Shocked by his findings, Bhimani – who is an interior designer and a Project Affected Person – has been going around blowing the whistle to MMRDA, Economic Offense Wing and many other authorities. But there is no response and no action so far. As usual, all the concerned authorities have adopted a policy of ‘See no evil, hear no evil, make money’.

Bhimani’s findings:

1)    MMRDA GAVE PERMISSION TO BUILD GROUND+2+14 STOREYS, BUT RNA IS ACTUALLY BUILDING BASEMENT+GROUND+14+36 STOREYS! Under RTI, Bhimani got the approved plan layouts of RNA Exotica. What the plans show is a 14-floor building standing on two levels of parking podium: http://tinyurl.com/RNA-Approved-Plans

But when Bhimani went as a flat-purchaser to enquire at the site office, he was given a brochure showing that the building under construction had 14 levels of podium (twelve for parking, plus two for swimming pool and gymnasium) and on top of those, 36 floors of flats! Exotica brochure & Payment Schedule: http://tinyurl.com/RNA-Brochure

This is further confirmed by RNA Builder’s promotional video on Youtube: http://tinyurl.com/RNA-video
(and in case this video is removed from Youtube, you can download the same from http://tinyurl.com/RNA-video2 )

In fact, the sales staff spoke loosely about the number of floors as “about 40 floors”, indicating RNA builders may be aspiring to even greater heights!

Bhimani and others took photos of the unapproved two-level basement that is under construction:  http://tinyurl.com/RNA-basement

2)    MMRDA GAVE SAME-DAY APPROVALS WITHOUT VERIFICATIONS, WITHOUT REQUIRING FULFILMENT OF ANY CONDITIONS. Under RTI, Bhimani uncovered some more startling facts: RNA Exotica (and the commercial building near it) got both IOA and CC on 5 August 2009. The Intimation of Approval (IOA) dated 5 August 2009 lists numerous conditions to be fulfilled before commencement of work. It involves getting various NOCs and approvals from MCGM, Chief Fire Officer and numerous other authorities. Some of these conditions require physical and on-site verification by MMRDA’s people. Only after these verifications can a Commencement Certificate (CC) rightly be issued. But CC was issued on the very same day, almost instantaneously, without any verification.

EVEN MORE SHOCKINGLY, IT APPEARS THAT RNA CORP MAY NOT EVEN HAVE SUBMITTED A FORMAL PROPOSAL LETTER WHEN IT GOT THESE APPROVALS. In the IOA and CC, both the dates — date of the proposal letter, and date of submission of this letter — are intentionally not mentioned. Those spaces are left blank. This suggests that IOA and CC were issued to the builder without him having even submitted a proposal letter. See IOA and CC that Bhimani got under RTI: http://tinyurl.com/RNA-approvals

3)    CRUCIAL CONDITIONS OF THE COMMENCEMENT CERTIFICATE ARE BEING VIOLATED DAILY. A site visit reveals that the ongoing construction activities are in breach of conditions no. 1 and 2 of the Commencement Certificate.
a) BUILDER HAS ENCLOSED A PUBLIC ROAD WITHIN HIS WALLS, AND IS USING IT FOR SITE OFFICE, STORAGE OF MATERIALS ETC. The first condition in the CC states: “The land vacated in consequence of endorsement of the setback line / road widening line shall form part of the public street.” In simple words, it means that the builder must not occupy a road that belongs to the public. There is a 25-foot wide road, approximately 75 metres long, connecting Somani Gram to Ram Mandir Road, which is running between RNA Exotica (residential) and RNA’s adjoining 11-storey commercial building. This road has been enclosed and public access is blocked off.
•    That road enters here from Somani Gram: http://tinyurl.com/RNA-road1  The road exits here onto Ram Mandir Road: http://tinyurl.com/RNA-road2
•    Inside the builder’s compound, the road has been blocked by this site office: http://tinyurl.com/RNA-road3    .
•    Part of it is occupied by building materials: http://tinyurl.com/RNA-road4
•    And part of it is occupied by workmen: http://tinyurl.com/RNA-road5

b)    BUILDER HAS ILLEGALLY OCCUPIED GROUND AND FIRST FLOORS OF THE UNDER-CONSTRUCTION COMMERCIAL BUILDING.  The second condition of the CC says, “No new building or part thereof shall be occupied or used or permitted to be used by any reason until occupancy permission has been granted”. In breach of this condition, RNA Corp is running a plush sales office for the residential flats, complete with conference rooms, in the under-construction building. He has even constructed a fully-furnished sample flat in this building! See these photos:  http://tinyurl.com/RNA-sales-office

4)    MMRDA ACCEPTS RNA CORP’S NON-DATED COMPLETION & OCCUPATION CERTIFICATES! SV Thakker & Associates, who is RNA’s architect (and also a government-approved surveyor and valuer) issued to MMRDA completion and occupation certificates for the Slum Rehabilitation (SRA) buildings without any date: http://tinyurl.com/RNA-completion-certificates  

The architect wrote, “The work has been completed to my best satisfaction and the workmanship and all the materials (type and grade) have been used strictly in accordance with general and detailed specifications… The building is fit for occupancy…” Please see photos of the buildings, workmanship etc. that he is referring to: http://tinyurl.com/RNA-Oshiwara

For more documents and details, contact Bhimani 09323642081  designerstouch11@gmail.com

Hi-resolution photos for Press: http://tinyurl.com/RNA-photos2  
and http://tinyurl.com/Oshiwara-pics

Warm Regards,
Krish
09821588114

Posted in Activism, Governance & Administration, Right to Information, RTI Act 2005, Uncategorized.

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