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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

Builders’ objections to land maps seem a self-serving ploy

Kunal Purohit, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, August 24, 2013
First Published: 02:52 IST(24/8/2013) | Last Updated: 02:59 IST(24/8/2013)

Citizen groups and urban planning experts might not be the only ones keeping a close eye on the civic body’s efforts to mark the city’s land. Builders and architects have accounted for more than 30% of the total objections received by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for their ‘flawed’ existing land use (ELU) maps.

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While the BMC received more than 3,000 objections from various groups, only 2,672 were viewed as valid. Of these, 881 came from building construction companies and architect firms. Although most of these objections have been rejected by the civic body, experts and activists are eyeing these objections with suspicion.

As HT found out, not all builders and architects were interested in correcting anomalies in these maps. There were at least 18 applications received by various builders and architects asking the civic body to delete reservations on certain plots across the city. None of these have been approved. For instance, one builder wanted to erase the reservation of a playground from a plot, which would have allowed him to use the site for development.

Many of these objections were from builders who protested that their sites under construction had been marked as ‘under construction’. These builders want the civic body to recognise these sites by the proposed usage of these structures, which is not allowed.

An architect, who did not want to be named, said there could be a bigger motive behind these ‘objections’.

“It cannot be ruled out that there may be a design behind builders putting up such objections and the BMC rejecting it. Officials and builders often work very closely and hence, it cannot be ruled out that there could be a pattern here which is yet to be understood,” the architect said.

A Juhu-based activist Utsal Karani said these objections by builders and architects should be looked at closely.

“Since the issue concerns prime real estate, there are going to be numerous vested interests involved. Hence, such objections cannot be taken lightly and need to inquired into,” Karani said.

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