Nearly eleven months after the civic body lodged a complaint against the Kamdhenu shopping complex at Andheri alleging misuse of space, the Versova police on Monday lodged a first information report (FIR). Following this FIR, the mall owner, who is travelling at the moment, could be arrested.
The Hindustan Times had on September 17 reported how the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had lodged a complaint with the Versova police against the Patliputra housing society in Andheri in October 2010, alleging misuse of space given to a shopping complex on the 5,667 sqm plot.
Patliputra has two 13-storey residential towers and a shopping complex. In July 2010, Kamdhenu shopping complex, a part of the society that is on a 99-year lease with the Mumbai suburban collector, was issued a notice under the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning (MRTP) Act for changing the use of space, using free floor space index (FSI) of the basement without the civic body’s permission.
After no response from either the complex or the society, the civic body lodged a complaint with the Versova police station in October 2010.
The Andheri society has 50 bureaucrats and senior police officials as its members, including former chief secretary and currently upa-lokayukta Johnny Joseph, home secretary Umeshchandra Sarangi, MMRDA chief Rahul Asthana, municipal commissioner Subodh Kumar and senior police official Satyapal Singh.
“We have filed an FIR against the owner, who is out of station right now. Till then, we will investigate the case and decide on the future course of action,” Sharad Borase, senior police inspector of Versova police said.
Walls of 12 shops were illegally brought down for the three-storied shopping complex on the Jai Prakash Road, where only small convenience stores are otherwise permitted.
The Kamdhenu owner merged 12 shops into one on the first floor, two shops into one on the first floor and the ground floor in a super market.
However, the mall owners who are regularly paying a fixed rent to the society have sought legal opinion. “We have proper papers to support our case. We are trying to engage a lawyer, who will help us sort this issue with police and society,” one of the co-owners of Kamdhenu Society said.
Former police officer and lawyer-activist YP Singh, however, alleged that the society is equally responsible and should be made a co-accused in the case.
“The society has been getting rent from Kamdhenu for the past six years. It was well within their knowledge that instead of small shops for which approval was taken, there was a shopping mall, which had come up by merging those shops. Besides, free floor space index areas such as basement, lobby, had been merged into a shopping mall was well known,” Singh said on Monday.
However, chairman of the Patliputra society and former law secretary Pratima Umarji ran down his argument. “The mall is our lessee and we have given it all the development rights which makes it Kamdhenu’s duty to seek all permissions and function within law. The mall will need to make corrections as per law,” Umarji said.