This is a classic example of unauthorized construction and a level to the extent of blatant and conspicuous violation of DCR and BMC Rules by one of the renowned Builders in selling the individual car deck area on each floor to flat buyers and subsequently allowed them to amalgamate this space into the apartment purchased.

 A year after the completion of project, a one of the prominent newspapers of Mumbai reported about 11-storey Juhu building with large car decks on each floor, the BMC has now ordered the demolition of certain portions of the high-end tower. A report prepared by civic chief Subodh Kumar also directed this builder to pay a security deposit as a “deterrent act against possible misuse of these car decks in future”.

Civic sources said that the deposit, based on the stamp duty ready reckoner rates of developed land, could work out to over Rs 50 crores. “No occupation permission or water connection shall be granted to the building unless the deposit is paid to the corporation,” it said.

 The order has jolted many builders who sell car deck areas to buyers and allow them to amalgamate this space at a later date into the apartment. There are at least such 80 to 100 projects sanctioned by the BMC.

 The average size of a flat in the Juhu tower, portions of which are to be demolished on the BMC’s orders, was shown as around 2,000 sq ft. However, the builder provided an equivalent space outside each flat for an exclusive independent car deck. Residents alleged that these car decks were sold as part of the apartment.

 BMC officials said the total car deck area in the building was around 75,000 sq ft, which fetched the builder an additional Rs 150 crores (sold at the prevailing rate of about Rs 20,000 a sq ft in Juhu). Besides basement and podium parking, the builder was allowed to construct nine car park decks on each floor of the building, which has three wings of 11 floors each.

 In all, the building has 196 car parks (99 are located on habitable areas) for 33 flats. The project was approved when Jairaj Phatak was BMC chief. The present BMC Chief Subodh Kumar’s report comes as a major boost for the local Gulmohar Area Society’s Welfare Group, which filed a writ petition in the Bombay high court, listing a slew of building violations.

A division bench told the petitioners to approach the BMC with its complaint. The municipal commissioner’s report will be submitted to the court. “This is a victory for us. We plan to expose another building scam near actor Jeetendra’s house in Juhu, which is much bigger than this,” said Ashoke Pandit, vice-chairman of the welfare group.

In this case, the builder has been ordered to demolish either the lily ponds (small swimming pool) and adjacent deck areas or equivalent areas of the building’s upper floors. “Owner shall exercise this option within a period of six weeks,” said the report. It also directed the extended portion of toilets, which are beyond approved plan, to be demolished. The commissioner also said the 11th floor can be constructed within the permissible floor space index (FSI)—the ratio of total built up area vis-a-vis the plot size. “It may be regularized by charging premium/penalty. Else the same also shall be demolished,” said the order.

A few months ago, the BMC partially demolished the 11th floor because it was built without permission of the Airports Authority of India. The demolition was halted after sanction was procured from the authority.

In a presentation made to the commissioner, architect and one of the Juhu residents said the height of serious offense is that the developer constructed a swimming pool with a deck for every flat. However, it was approved by the BMC as a lily pond and provided behind the toilet block. The developer’s advocate said the construction was in accordance with the approved building plans and denied swimming pools were built under the guise of lily ponds.

However, the BMC’s deputy chief engineer (building proposals) said the developer built much larger lily ponds than what was permitted by the BMC. “The size of lily pond was later restored in accordance with the approved plan with brick work,” he said. The report quoted stating that all toilets were extended to include the duct areas as usable floor area (120 sq ft/unit). It was pleaded that the extended portion of toilets be demolished.

It has been often noticed that during the process of construction, 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.

The BMC has now decided to make things difficult for developers who procure building concessions and then misuse the space by selling it to flat buyers. Although a policy is yet to be finalized, municipal commissioner Subodh Kumar has already started clearing projects by putting restrictions that clamp down on these violations.

The areas which are generally misused are flower beds, canopies and car decks. Today, most builders blatantly sell the flower bed area although it is not included in the FSI of the building. Flat buyers then illegally amalgamate the flower bed area into the room in order to make the living space larger. It may soon become mandatory to construct a 70-cm-high RCC wall at the edge of the room to demarcate it from the flower bed area.

Wherever the Redevelopment projects are concerned, 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.

The Hindustan Times of Mumbai, January 19, 2011 reports the order from the High Court, Mumbai to “Raze ALL" illegal structures. While hearing public interest litigation (PIL) seeking orders to demolish an ICSE school in Malad due to irregularities in its construction, the Mumbai High Court ordered the BMC to pull down all illegal and unauthorized constructions in the city. The High Court has directed the civic body to identify all such structures in the city and complete its survey within a week’s time. The Court has also directed BMC commissioner Subodh Kumar to state, on affidavit, the civic body’s action plan to remove unauthorised structures.

“We have to ensure proper enforcement of civic laws,” said the division bench of Justice P.B. Majmudar and Justice Amjad Syed. “It is high time the BMC ensured no unauthorised constructions come up in the city. There has to be some civic sense, or it will become difficult for law-abiding citizens to live here,” the judges said while pulling up BMC officials for allowing Balaji International School in Malad to add six illegal floors to its 11-storey structure.

The Bombay High Court further directed the BMC to submit a list of builders in the city who flouted the law when carrying out constructions. It also sought information on action taken against architects for violating building norms. The court has directed BMC to prepare the list of erring builders inform if any steps have been taken by it against any architect for violating building construction laws.

In what is considered a blow to real estate developers, the Maharashtra Government in a recent notification said that spaces such as flower beds, lily ponds, parking decks and terraces would qualify for a levy of 100 per cent of the ready reckoner rate (guideline value) as premium. Earlier, these spaces were exempt from the floor space index, which were being sold by developers and later enclosed by buyers as part of their living area. For commercial development, the levy would be 200 per cent. The Municipal Corporation hopes to rake in about Rs 3,000 crores annually on this count alone.

The Government has also decided to cap the maximum permissible floor space index (FSI) in buildings by allowing no more than 25 per cent extra FSI for residential and 15 per cent for commercial, which again would attract 100 per cent levy of the ready reckoner rate. The Development Control Rules empower the Municipal Commissioner to sanction areas that come under staircase, passage, lift, lobby, service and refuge floors and air-conditioner unit rooms among other amenities free from floor space index calculation. The exemption granted attracts payment of 25 per cent of the ready reckoner rate. This, the civic body said, was being exploited by developers, who brought it under the common area calculations and encashed them as buyers paid for the super built-up area that included such exempted spaces.

  The Municipal Commissioner made it a point to emphasize that doing away with the free FSI norm and the discretionary power vested with him would make building approvals and sanctions speedier as it would not be on a case-by-case basis