The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Public Works department (PWD) both agreed that the construction of the state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) headquarters on recreation ground (RG) in the costliest area of Nariman Point is not authorised.
The party was allotted a temporary barrack in 1980 by the PWD. However, despite having no permissions for redevelopment, the BJP is now constructing a permanent brick and mortar structure in its place.
BMC commissioner Sitaram Kunte admitted that the structure is unauthorised and was all set to be demolished after being served notice in April 2013.
“We had initiated the process of razing the unauthorised structure, but we were not given police protection,” Kunte told Hindustan Times. After this failed attempt, BJP is now seeking regularisation of the illegal structure. “Now we will have to see what has to be done,” Kunte said.
Meanwhile, BJP’s claims that they have a no-objection certificate from the PWD to construct the temporary structure were rubbished by the department.
“We have given an NOC only for internal refurbishment while keeping the roofing intact. No permanent structure can come up at that place as it is on RG,” said Kishore Patil, executive officer of the PWD.
The structure occupies 2,682 square feet of the 10,000-square foot green plot of the Jawaharlal Nehru Garden, an RTI reply received by the Nariman Point Churchgate Citizens Association (NPCCA) had revealed.
Two other structures on this plot are the state office of Janata Dal (S) and an office of the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC).
The three structures occupy more than three-fourths of the 10,000 suare-foot garden. However, JD(S) and MTDC have not made any changes to their structures.
BJP, however, insisted that it was not building an unauthorised structure. “We are not building any permanent structure and have applied for the necessary permissions. I do not want to say anything further,” said BJP vice president Pratap Ahsar.
“It is a clear that if a structure is constructed on RG, it has to be demolished. We should get our open spaces back. This unauthorised structure needs to go and the land should be reclaimed,” said activist Ananhita Pandole, a resident of the area.
Another resident and member of the NPCCA, Phiroze Javeri, said that the term ‘temporary structure’ needs to be defined by the government.
“Ideally, permission for any structure on public open spaces should be strictly debarred. But if at all permission is given for a ‘temporary structure’, it should be only for a specified period not exceeding one year.”