Anti-Corruption

OpenLletter to Maharashtra CM on Need to Rein in Builders

BeyondHeadlines News Desk

New Delhi: Activist G R Vora has written a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and others on the need to rein in builders, architects, project management consultants, police, licensing authorities and political godfathers.

Below is the full text of the letter:

28 May, 2011

To
Shri Prithviraj Chavan,
Chief Minister of Maharashtra,
Mantralaya, 6th Floor, Madame Cama Road,
Mumbai 400032

Please stop adopting a See-No-Evil policy towards Builder Lobby

Sir,

On behalf of citizens of Maharashtra, and especially of Mumbai Metropolitan Region, we thank you for taking steps to curb the rampant ways of builders after you were appointed as Chief Minister in the wake of the Adarsh scam. We also appreciate Municipal Commissioner Subodh Kumar for the steps taken by him.

Sir, at a public meeting some months ago, we applauded when you remarked that builders were destroying this city. We felt happy that you knew builders were playing havoc in the lives of common people. We believed that you had been sent by central government to curb the cartel of builders, architects, project management consultants, police, licensing authorities and political godfathers.

But, of late, we are bewildered by some of your moves, such as:

• Your move to regularize rather than demolish illegally constructed floors

• Announcing more liberal FSI norms, allowing more vertical growth in this city without commensurate growth in civic infrastructure

• Condoning builders’ rampant encroachment of the city’s remaining open spaces, and not taking action against them despite ample documentary evidence of such encroachment

• Letting builders turn the city’s green lungs such as Aarey Colony into concrete canyons

• Letting a civic committee headed by builders demolish 15 government buildings in the name of “malaria control”

• Sending police and a demolition team to evict people from their homes in Golibar, while overlooking the criminality of the accounts redeveloper

Sir, the common man in Mumbai is being robbed of his home and his recreational spaces. Please don’t say that you will protect the common man after the concerned builders are found guilty and sentenced in court. That is most unlikely, as big builder have lawyers-cum-liaison men who get stay orders, adjournments and favourable judgments for the asking. While the common man is in awe of the judiciary, builders and their henchmen are on backslapping terms with officers of the court.

Surely, you are aware that builders commence construction without even an approved layout, and freely amend their approved layouts, secure in the knowledge that it will all be eventually regularized. Big builders have liaisoning architects to get NOCs, permissions and certificates. Such persons frequent the offices of Mantralaya, MCGM, MMRDA, MHADA etc cultivating friends. Friendly ministers, bureaucrats and officers can buy flats or plots of land at rock-bottom prices. As real estate prices are continually rising, and every transaction includes a large “cash” component, how does one detect bribes in the form of underpriced property purchases? Or, for that matter, overpriced sale of property to a builder’s front man?

Sir, we are not asking you to lose face by backing down before Medha Patkar’s fast-unto-death. We are asking you to do your constitutional duty to safeguard the life and liberty of the common man from criminal elements.

Please take these proactive measures immediately:

1) Appoint fast-track courts to hear cases against builders on a daily basis.

2) Appoint a special body to receive evidence from RTI activists and aggrieved citizens and to investigate further.

3) Please identify the henchmen of the builders within the administration, confiscate their disproportionate assets and dismiss them from service. Pending investigations, transfer them to remote areas like Chandrapur, Gadchiroli etc.

4) Formulate a long-term vision for this city, keeping in mind its need for water-supply, infrastructure and open spaces.

5) Until you sort out the above matters, please call a two-year halt to all redevelopment — not only slum redevelopment and also new building projects. A cooling-off period is needed to halt the uncontrolled growth-frenzy.

6) Do not allow any more de-reservations of our open spaces for “development” purpose. We are gravely short of open spaces.

7) There are several thousand flats in Mumbai Metropolitan region that are being kept locked up by investors and speculators, driving the prices upwards and fuelling inflation. Before you sanction any new project, make adequate laws to bring these flats into the market.

Sir, when you were appointed Chief Minister, you spoke of “zero tolerance on corruption”. Please walk the talk. Kindly ensure that builders and architects who are regularly committing offences such as forgery, bribery and breach of contract, are jailed.

You must be aware that a builder earns one crore rupees in a few days or weeks; whereas for the ordinary citizen, one crore is many multiples of his entire life savings. Owing to this massive imbalance in spending power, a redeveloper’s dealings with a cooperative housing society is like a tiger dealing with a herd of sheep; only the jungle law operates. Please remedy this by introducing legislation for a government authority to oversee such transactions.

Currently, the man on the street has every reason to believe that government is only there to protect the rights of builders to make money without interruption. Please win back his confidence by actively protecting his life, liberty and honour.

Yours Sincerely,

1. G R Vora
Plot – 275 / 3, Gope Nivas, Dr B A Road, Sion E, Mumbai – 400022.

Along with:
2. Krishnaraj Rao, ( Mumbai )
3. Mohammed Afzal, ( Mumbai )
4. Ms Sucheta Dalal ( Dadar W, Mumbai – 400028 )
5. Advocate Namitabh R Kothari ( Fort, Mumbai )
6. Vijayan Vasudevan ( Chembur, Mumbai – 400089 )
7. Prashant Uikey ( Mulund )
8. Manohar Sabnis
9. D S Ranga Rao ( Mumbai )
10. Marshello Mendonca
11. Ramesh Patil , MCRI, Mumbai
12. Rajendra J Thacker ( Mumbai )
13. Maj. Gen. S C N Jatar, Retd. (Pune)
14. Utsal H Karani ( Juhu, Mumbai )
15. Jaideep Dharadhar, ( Mumbai )
16. Ramesh Vaswani (Mumbai)
17. Ramesh Jadhav ( Mumbai )
18. Advocate Mahesh Vora ( Mumbai )
19. Ms Dharini Anand (Mumbai )
20. Dr L B Tiwari, NGO – Sahayak. ( Mumbai )

Copy to:

• Deputy Chief Ajit Pawar, Mantralaya, 6th Floor, Madame Cama Road, Mumbai 400032

• Deputy Director Town Planning, ENSA Hutment, Azad Maidan, Mahapalika Marg, Mumbai 1

• Subodh Kumar, Municipal Commissioner, BMC Head Office, Mahapalika Marg, Mumbai 1

• Sonia Gandhi, NAC Chairperson, 10 Janpath, New Delhi – 110001.

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