In the matter of Redevelopment of any Housing Society, the common practice is that after obtaining Intimation of Disapproval (IOD) from the Municipal Authorities, the Developer gives a notice for a reasonable period of say 45 days to 60 days to the occupants in the existing premises for the reasons that the terms of IOD require that only after the demolition of the existing premises/structures, the Developer would be entitled to apply for and obtain Commencement Certificate (CC). Though, logically, it is disadvantageous and risky to the Developers as well as to the Flat Owners/ Tenants/ Occupants.

IOD is issued under the provisions contained in the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act 1888. Section 2 (7) of the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act 1966 contains definition of the term "Development". According to this definition, the term "Development" includes the demolition of any existing building, structure or erection of such building.

The Provisions of Section 43, 44 and 45 of the said MRTP Act require that no development can commence without obtaining CC. Combined reading of the provisions of the MRTP Act would mean that "Demolition” is also a development or a part of the development process and development process cannot commence without a CC from the concerned authority.

IOD is an essential permission given to the Developer by the Municipal Authorities to redevelop an old building. The Developer however cannot demolish the old building just on the basis of IOD alone.

After the plans for redevelopment are submitted to the Building Proposal Department of BMC, an IOD is issued and under the terms and conditions of the IOD, the Developer is asked to comply with many requirements and obtain various clearances like clearance from Environment Authorities, Tree Authorities and Fire Officer Etc. After these clearances are obtained, the Developer is entitled to obtain a Commencement Certificate (CC). The demolition can commence legally only after obtaining CC.

In such a view of the matter imagine the situation, wherein, the existing building has been demolished on the basis of receipt of IOD and because of non-fulfilment of the conditions like Aviation Clearance, Environmental Clearance, Permission by Tree Authority or any of them not materializing, the project would get halted and the dwellers may become homeless. Early vacating of the existing premises is not advantageous even for a Developer because, amongst other things, the Developer has to start paying rental compensation from the date of vacating the premises.

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Occupancy Certificate is a very important document under MOFA (Maharashtra Ownership Flat Act) for those purchasing flats and must be acquired by the builder before handing over the possession of property which evidences the completion of the building as per the approved plans and compliance of applicable local laws. The last step before the construction work is termed as complete is obtaining the Occupation Certificate enabling the builder to allot the occupation to the flat buyers.

Local Authorities like City Corporations/City Municipalities issue Occupancy Certificate. Without the Occupancy Certificate, it is difficult to get the water and sanitary connection. Banks/Financial Institutions insist on Occupancy Certificate to sanction loans.

Problems with respect to issuance of Occupancy Certificate arise on account of violation of the laws framed by MMRDA/MRTP/MCGM/TPA/DCR. Though the buyers have spent their hard earned money with a dream of owning a house, they are unable to occupy the house for want of Occupancy Certificate and have to suffer for none of their faults.

Having invested precious money in such buildings and after waiting for many years to get an Occupancy Certificate, the purchasers occupy the houses for fear that they may lose the property. They prefer to illegally occupy the flats without power, water and sewerage connections instead of losing the property.

At times, the flat buyers rely on the builder, performed the house warming ceremonies and take possession of the flats and when they are about to move in, they learn that the Authorities are not issuing Occupancy Certificate due to violation of construction rules by the builder.

In one of the cases, the builder constructed small flats targeting the middle-income group. The Authorities, however, refused to issue Occupancy Certificate because of deviation in construction from the approved plan. In this case, the builder got the plan approved for construction of 4 Dwelling Units – 2 on the ground floor and 2 on the first floor. However, he did something different in gross violation of the approved plan. Instead of constructing 4 dwelling units, he constructed 6 Dwelling Units. The buyers who had invested in the flats may lose their money and the flats if the Authorities decide to demolish the unauthorized and illegal structure.

The Authorities are to be blamed for this state of affairs. The Inspecting Authorities do not carry out periodic and surprise checks at the construction site. In case of deviation they should take the builder to task in the beginning itself and not after the completion of construction.

The investors too must share the blame. They do not check the antecedents of the builder and his track record before taking possession as also they do not check whether the building is according to the sanctioned plan and the fixtures are according to the agreement. Many do not demand Occupancy Certificate, Parent Documents, Tide Deeds and Deposit Receipts from the builder. The purchaser, who has not collected all the required documents, has to face various types of problems at a later stage.

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Now a day, the Redevelopment proposals are grossly mooted by the Builders and Developers in old and dilapidated Cooperative Housing Societies in Mumbai Central and Suburbs.

As per the Plot area and the loadable TDR/FSI in permissible ratio i.e. 1:1, 1:1.3, 1:2, 1:2.5 or 1:3 or as applicable, the Developers begin discussions with the Office Bearers/Architect/members of the Societies for the Redevelopment of Society’s property.

The Developers offer the members a bigger and posh dream houses with additional carpet area/rooms over the existing ones, displacement compensation for alternate accommodation, corpus fund and eye-catching amenities etc.

The Developers construct either additional flats or commercial joints on the remaining area available at their disposal on the same plot and sale it in open market to earn the surplus. The Development Agreements and the Power of Attorneys are finally executed between the Societies and the Developers to complete the projects.

Initially, to obtain the IOD/CC from MCGM, the Developers submit the plans to MCGM as per the agreed terms in the Development Agreements executed with the Housing Society.

It has been often noticed that thereafter, during the process of redevelopment, the terms of Development Agreements as agreed upon, the unhealthy attempts with ulterior motives are made by the Developers to twist and grossly violate the rules of MRTP and DCR by unlawful planning and constructing additional/unauthorized areas that are beyond their entitlement (i.e. beyond the plot FSI and the TDR/FSI loaded) for their hidden financial gains. The buyers of such unlawful flats/properties land themselves in deals that lead to litigation at a later date.

At this stage, the Developers submit the amended plans for additional structures to MCGM which are not in conformity with the Development Agreements executed and additional/unauthorized constructions are carried out without informing beforehand or seeking formal approval from the Society's architect/Society as per the rules and bye-laws or execution and registration of further necessary Agreements to this effect.

The ill-observance of MRTP/MCGM/DCR rules and guidelines are overlooked by the sympathetic officials of the MCGM and the plans so submitted, are sanctioned without verifying the eligibility or its conformity with the Development Agreements.

The Projects are completed and the Occupancy Certificates are issued without the proper inspection neither carried out by the MCGM officials nor taking pains to verify whether the actual measurement of the constructed areas tally with the final plans submitted.

It is further noticed that upon the completion of the projects, these additional/unauthorized constructions are silently regularized at the last moment by executing the Supplemental Agreements with the Office Bearers of the Societies with green handshakes/offering them handsome rewards.

The gullible members of the Societies, unaware of the laws and rules, are taken for a ride by the Developers and the satisfied Office Bearers together with their interested associates once the projects are completed and since the members aim to get themselves re-housed in the redeveloped premises and on the other hand, the hidden financial benefits of such unauthorized/additional areas go to the Developers.

There are numerous news clips in various news papers with regard to Mumbai High Court’s reprimanding and lambasting severely the MCGM for violation of Development Control Act & Rules and are instructed to immediately issue the demolition orders to pull down such unauthorized/additional constructions and take stringent action against the erring officials for their lapses.

Under the Development Control Rules, it has been stated that in case of unauthorized development, the Commissioner shall - (a) take suitable action which may include demolition of unauthorized works as provided in section 53 of the MRTP Act, 1966 and the relevant provisions of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888 and shall take suitable action against the licensed technical person or the architect concerned.

Upholding the law for the welfare of the community is more valuable for society than extra heap of cement and concrete. Plenty of judgments are overlooked by greedy Developers to earn extra money.

On illegal constructions, the BMC has issued a circular, raising the penalty by four times. The rule applies to any addition or alteration made in high rises as well as work carried out beyond permissible limits in housing societies i.e. only up to 15 per cent of the total built-up area of the Residential Societies under redevelopment can be allowed to be constructed for commercial purposes i.e. Offices, Mall etc. This notification marks the withdrawal of the earlier circular that decreed demolition of unauthorized floors without giving the owner or builder a chance to apply for regularization under the MRTP Act.

"At a time when the civic body is looking to explore fresh sources of revenue, it is only prudent to charge more for unauthorized work instead of demolishing them arbitrarily. The earlier circular was not in line with procedures laid out in the law," said a BMC official.

Sections 52 to 54 of the MRTP Act lay down the law to penalize developers for irregular constructions and regularize unauthorized work.

A 1985 Government circular empowers the civic body with the right to impose a fine on the accused to regularize work carried out beyond the approved plans and the penalty amount can range between 5% and 15% (in four categories) of the Ready Reckoner Rate of the building. The amount is charged on a premium, 25% on the land rates of the project. But the new verdict has now revised the rates, starting from 20% and going up to 100% in the fourth category. "The rise will have a major impact (and act as a deterrent) as even the Ready Reckoner Rates have also gone up manifolds," said an official.

Municipal commissioner Subodh Kumar, who knows regularizing illegal floors in buildings could be a source of big money for the BMC, has also introduced changes in two other categories of the penalty. First, a 30% fine for "change of utility in approved buildings", and a second penalty for alterations, such as illegally added cabins and partitions and unauthorized excavation of project foundations. This last category will invite a fine of Rs 425 per sq m from the earlier Rs 400 per sq m, with the amount slated for a rise by 5% every year.

The commissioner has issued a set of 11 rules that nullified the practice of allowing the regularization of illegal floors and filing of a police case for work beyond permissible limit.

Until then, the BMC would issue a notice under Section 354 of the BMC Act and then slap another notice under Section 53 (1) of the MRTP Act, directing the developer to restore the work to the original status and also gives him time to apply for the regularization of floors.

The members of the Cooperative Housing Societies in Mumbai are required to be vigilant while handing over their Societies for redevelopment to such Developers who, by rewarding the Office Bearers and their associates, carry out the unauthorized/additional constructions for their hidden financial gains which they are not entitled to. When unauthorized constructions beyond the laws are the statutory norms of such intellectually dishonest Developers rather than the exception to the rules, the strict laws of the land have always to be upheld by taking stern actions under the laws.

Please educate yourself and caution your friendly neighbors to be vigilant from Irregularities and illegalities in Redevelopment by the Builders, Illegal gratifications showered by Builders on corrupt members of Managing Committees, Rampant Corruption in BMC, Flagrant violation of Rules and Regulations by the Builders, how to beware of Cheat and Fraud Builders and their criminal and felonious acts.

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What is a Building Completion Certificate (BCC)?

Once the project is completed, the Local Authority inspects the premise on the basis of the Building Plan and awards the Building Completion Certificate if it is satisfied.

During the construction of a building, the Builder is supposed to get No-Objection Certificates from various Departments of the Local Development Authority for basic amenities such as water and electricity, stating that the building construction is not violating any norms in the area.

According to Apartment Acts of various States, after completion of a project, it is mandatory for the Builder or the owner of a Stand-Alone Property to get a Building Completion Certificate from the Local Authority to ensure the supply of basic amenities.

The Builder then applies to the Departments yet again along with a copy of the Building Completion Certificate to get water, electricity connection and other basic amenities for the project.

Provisional Building Completion Certificate:

Sometimes Builders get a Provisional Building Completion Certificate to hand over the possession of Apartments in a newly constructed project. In the meanwhile, the Builder finishes the remaining work such as painting and landscaping. However, the Provisional Certificate is valid only for six months. After the expiry of this period, the Builder has to apply for the Final Building Completion Certificate.

Why is it important?

Apart from ensuring that basic amenities, such as water, electricity and drainage system are provided, a Building Completion Certificate ensures that the Builder/Owner has constructed the building according to the approved Building Plan. Without obtaining the Building Completion Certificate, the Builder cannot give the possession of the house to the buyer.

The Builder has to construct the building as per approved plan without any deviations and violations. Issuing of Building Completion Certificate will ensure that the Builder has constructed the building as per Approved Plan.

If the Builder cannot get the Building Completion Certificate, there could be trouble in terms of delay in possession. For instance, in the Commonwealth Games Village (CWG) in New Delhi, it was found during the process of awarding the Building Completion Certificate the Builder had violated norms of the Floor Area Ratio Limit by constructing on a larger area than mandated. While the Government is yet to decide on awarding the Building Completion Certificate and Regularization of the extra area, buyers in the project are waiting for possession.

What you can do?

In cases where your Builder has been unable to procure a Building Completion Certificate, you can directly ask the Local Authority to hand over the possession to you. You can apply to the Authority independently by forming a Residents’ Welfare Association (RWA). The Authority then becomes responsible to answer your application within 40-50 days of your applying. If the Authority also fails to offer you possession, you can approach the Court.

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Have you booked a flat in an under-construction project? Is your flat getting ready in redevelopment project of your housing Society? You may have to get ready for a long wait for keys of your dream house. An acute shortage of sand in the city has slowed down the pace of all kinds of construction activities. All projects, depending upon their aggregate area of construction, are now feared to be delayed by months or by years.

A PIL was filed in Mumbai High Court that continuous sand extraction posed serious environmental threats to riverbeds in the state and if ignored, it could lead to flood-like situations in places close to rivers. However, the Mumbai High Court vacated the month-long stay on sand mining in Maharashtra after expressing its satisfaction over the government’s new policy for sand excavation and the fact that the state has issued a GR on it.

It is learnt that stringent rules and regulations in the policy entails like registration of vehicles transporting the sand, Committee surveying the area before a sand mining contract granted and it would be the government and not the collector who would take a decision on the use of machines. It is feared that the policy is good only for 10 years, after that there will be no sand left for excavating.

As per the recent information published by press, construction in Mumbai has come to a nearly on hold due to a severe shortage of sand which is the most indispensable constituent for any construction activity. The Ready-mix concrete production industries in and around Mumbai have also closed their units till the solving of presently heinous issue of no-supply of sand.

As a consequence against a daily sand demand of 1,000 trucks, hardly 40 to 50 trucks are coming into the city from neighboring state of Gujarat. This sand is available at a heavy premium rate and almost unaffordable to small builders of third tire as the sand prices of yester period earlier as Rs 2,500 per truck load of 2.5 brass (1 brass is equal to 100 cubic feet of sand), have heaved to Rs 12,000 per truck load.

This shortage offers the builders an excuse to record an abrupt hike in project costs. The number of trucks delivering the cargo is likely to drop further because of the new CRZ norms. If the sand shortage intermittently continues, it would bump the construction cost and execution of projects will be delayed as a standard building of 14 floors with two wings occupying 100,000 sq. ft requires nearly 2,700 trucks of sand for the civil work.

It is a matter of serious concern that over 90 per cent of redevelopment of housing societies, commercial construction activities in Mumbai’s suburbs has been under the noxious grip of acute shortage of for over a fortnight.

Despite knowing the seriousness of shortage of sand, there are builders of third tire, who tend to gamble the redevelopment projects beyond their financial and managerial capacity as there is no law or restriction barring them for doing so.

Even the most successful projects are rarely completed precisely according to the original construction schedule. There are many factors responsible for the delays that can have devastating economic effects on both i.e. the purchaser/owner of the flat and the builder. In fact, even when other problems occur on a project, the changing policies of the Government and sudden shortage of material is usually the most expensive consequence.

For continuing their work, developers have started procuring sand by paying higher prices. To make matters worse, rampant smuggling of sand too has started at some areas.

Traders have started extracting sand from rivers and selling it at higher prices. For carrying out the sand mining activities it is necessary to obtain permission from the District Collector. However, illegal sand mining activities are being carried out at many places without such permission. Some builders are getting sand from the black market at four times the cost. This burden will be passed on the customers.

It is an established fact of any economy that any cost estimation requires complete visualization of the project including the probable emergent variation that could be caused due to change in policies of Government whether State or Centre. If the project is not visualized completely in changed circumstances, then certain dark areas like sudden shortage of essential raw material could significantly impact the project cost which could cause havoc in the financial planning of the project.

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