The multi-crore housing project at Mariamma Nagar in Worli is under the scanner not just for failing to get an environment clearance before starting construction.
The 2 lakh-sq-ft plot is also caught in a title row.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Nehru Centre, a private trust headed by Nationalist Congress Party chief and former chief of the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI), Sharad Pawar, are both claiming they own the land.
One of the conditions of the letter of intent for the redevelopment project was that the developer should hand over 15% of the buildable area to the ‘appropriate authority’ or the owner of the plot.
The developer, Akshay Sthapatya Private Limited, got a no-objection certificate (NoC) from the Nehru Centre and, in return, agreed to hand over 25,000 sq ft of land.
A spokesperson for the developer said: “We had the property registration card that named Nehru Centre as the owner so we sought their permission.”
The BMC said this is illegal. “The land on which Mariamma Nagar stands belongs to us,” said NV Pai, assistant municipal commissioner, G-South ward. “How can a private trust make agreements with developers without asking us?”
SP Varma, joint director of Nehru Centre, said: “The state government and BMC allotted the land to us in 1975. So, we gave the developer our nod for the project,” Varma said.
While approving the project, the SRA also made it mandatory for the developer to get an NoC from the Nehru Science Centre. A go-ahead from the Nehru Science Centre, a central government institution, is mandatory for construction in its vicinity.
The developer got an NoC from the science centre for using one of its internal roads but wrote to the SRA saying it had obtained the NoC for the entire project. “We obtained the NoC from Nehru Science Centre,” the developer’s spokesperson said.
The Nehru Science Centre denied issuing an NoC to the project. “We have never issued any NoC to any developer to go ahead with an SRA project on this plot,” CK Das, administrative officer, Nehru Science Centre, said.
Activist Raj Awasthi, who has been opposing the project, alleged that the developer made fraudulent claims about obtaining NoCs. “Why was the SRA in slumber back then?” Awasthi asked.
With the project stuck in these tangles, residents of Mariamma Nagar are wondering whether the promises made to them when the project was launched will be kept.
“Our homes were demolished and we were made to shift to builder-constructed transit camps with 110-sq-ft rooms, which are smaller than what we used to live in,” said a resident of Mariamma Nagar, requesting anonymity because of the controversial nature of the issue. “How long can my family of seven live in such a small area?”