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Files Of Bandra - Jogeshwari Buildings Missing From BMC

The BMC’s H-West Ward Office has filed a police complaint saying that the files of 3,474 buildings from Bandra to Jogeshwari have gone missing in just over four decades from 1966 to 2009. This accounts for around 10% of the said belt's 35,000 buildings.

Shockingly, around 10% of the missing files or around 300 files of concerned buildings that are exclusively of lucrative and posh H-West ward i.e. Bandra-Khar-Santa Cruz.

It is contended that a strong nexus between Builders and Civic Officials has led to the files being destroyed because the Builders were illegally allowed to build extra floors and/or commit other violations. Many residents of these buildings are now suffering because they received BMC notices for violations under the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning (MRTP) Act.

The Administrative Officer of the H-West Ward's Building Proposals Department filed the complaint with the Bandra police on May 23, 2013 under Section 9 of the Maharashtra Records Act. The Act says that those responsible for destroying or removing public records can be imprisoned or fined Rs 10,000 fine, or both. One can imagine the volume of penalty compared to the benefits that one must have pocketed for destroying the files.

The police will have to investigate before converting the complaint into an FIR. It is not known who stole the files said a Civic Official of the H-West Ward's Building Proposal Department which compiled the list.

The BMC had earlier issued notices to several buildings in the Western Suburbs for violations of provisions under the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning (MRTP) Act. When the residents asked the BMC for the original building plans, they were found missing. The BMC chief then asked the Office of the H-West ward (Bandra-Santa Cruz) to investigate. The Ward's Building Proposals Department filed a police complaint saying the files of 3,474 buildings from Bandra to Jogeshwari were missing.

In case of three buildings in Khar (W) off Linking Road received MRTP notices. The notices were for alleged illegalities, like construction beyond the approved plans, increasing number of floors and encroaching on flowerbeds and garage spaces. The files of all three buildings were found missing.

The residents of these three buildings are suffering as they have learnt that their building files have gone missing and they are unable to prove any authenticity. In one of these three buildings does not have conveyance certificate as the property rights remain with the developer. It is feared that in case of any untoward incident, the residents would be at a loss.

It is learnt that a huge number of plans under the Transfer of Development Rights Scheme were approved in H-West and K-West (Andheri) Wards from 1995 to 2005. In many, the old structure remained and one could build extra floors over it. Such buildings have the most violations and maybe that provides clue to the missing files.

It is alleged that Developers and Architects connived with Building Proposal Dept. Officials and destroyed the files. In Bandra the Developer had an approved plan for constructing up to only four floors. He then got an Occupation Certificate and a water connection and went on to build three additional illegal floors. The files were reported to have been destroyed.

The gullible flat buyers are now at receiving end. What really required of the Government is that such Architect's licence should be cancelled and the Developer should compensate the flat owners at market rate. The Civic Officials who gave the Occupancy Certificate should be taken to task including heavy penalty and imprisonment and that their salaries and pension should be stopped and this scam must be probed by the Vigilance Department.

It is advised that if citizens are unable to locate their files, an RTI should be filed with the BMC Water Department mentioning the CTS number and name of the road. The list of over 3,000 missing files should be made public. People who want to buy and sell property will be cautious. The resident members who received the notices from BMC must know that notices don't stand legal if files are missing.