A plea to bring down the height of a Cuff Parade building has been filed in the Bombay High Court, claiming then municipal commissioner Jairaj Phatak had abused his powers to approve its increase in height.
Many political heavyweights and senior bureaucrats figure in the list of flat owners in the 30-storey building, Adarsh CHS, in the plush Backbay Reclamation area in Cuffe Parade. The plea is to cut it down from its current 104.6 m to 30 m.
Initial approved plans for the building were for a maximum of 27 floors, up to a height of 97.6 m, says the PIL filed by social activist Santosh Daundkar. It says that in August 2007, Phatak approved a decision of the High Rise Committee allowing its height to go up to 97.6 m despite Development Control Rules (1967) allowing it to only go up to 30 m.
A month later, permission was granted to increase its height to 104.6 m. Daundkar’s lawyer Yogesh Pratap Singh said Phatak had no authority to deal with the file, since the planning authority for the area is MMRDA, not the BMC. The PIL calls this “one of the most blatant cases of abuse of official authority… where a municipal commissioner abused his powers to favour a society where his son got a flat priced at Rs 7.5 crore for five per cent of market value.”
Phatak, currently additional secretary in the Union Ministry of Panchayati Raj, refuted the claims. He said MMRDA — not he — had approved the building proposal. “The only point was whether to forward the matter to the High Rise Committee again, when they sought permission to go from 97.6 mtr to 104.6 m,” he said.
The society had already obtained structural design approval for a height of 104.6 m, he added. They received additional FSI and were thus allowed to increase the height, he said.
Daundkar has sought the prosecution of Phatak under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, and has challenged the very formation of the High Rise Committee saying it was not consistent with the law.