Worli slumdwellers prevail, FIR filed against ex-SRA chief
Last week, the Worli police station saw a group of more than 15 residents of Worli's Mariamma Nagar slums trooping in to file a first information report (FIR). Kunal Purohit reports.mumbai Updated: Jan 26, 2013 02:02 IST
Last week, the Worli police station saw a group of more than 15 residents of Worli's Mariamma Nagar slums trooping in to file a first information report (FIR). What made the act exceptional was that the FIR was being filed against the then chief executive officer of the slum rehabilitation authority (SRA) and now principal secretary for housing, Debashish Chakraborty, the director of developer Akshay Sthapatya Private Ltd (ASPL), Neeraj, who is also the son of ex-BCCI treasurer Kishore Rungta, and six others.
While hearing a petition filed by the slumdwellers against the Worli project, the Bhoiwada metropolitan magistrate had ordered the Worli police station to register an FIR and conduct a thorough investigation.
Hindustan Times had, in its December 23, 2010 edition, reported how norms were allegedly being flouted for the Worli project. The project, spread over an area of 2 lakh sqft, was meant to rehabilitate 1,000 slumdwellers in five towers and build a 16-storey residential tower for sale. However, despite falling in the coastal regulation zone 2, no green nod was sought for the project. The state pollution control board had also issued a show-cause notice.
According to the approval granted by the SRA, the builder also had to obtain a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Nehru Science Centre, a Central government undertaking which abuts the plot, since the land on which the slum is located was reserved for its expansion. However, the Centre, replying to an RTI query, told the residents that no such nod was given. Instead, the Nehru Centre, which is managed by a private trust, granted its NOC to the project.
Dattaram Pedamkar, 42, a resident who filed the FIR, said, "From not getting the green nod to the absence of requisite documents, there are very clear violations in the project. There was no way we could let it go ahead."
Advocate Raj Awasthi, who helped the locals, said, "The plot belongs to the civic body. There was no need for them to hand it over to private players."
Rubbishing the allegations, the ASPL spokesperson said, "We have all the requisite nods and documents in place. We never got an NOC from the Nehru science centre. As far as the eco-clearance is concerned, we weren't informed about the need for the nod when the project was approved. The high power committee had rejected the petition filed by the slumdwellers. So, they have no reason to protest," he added.
A case of cheating, forging documents among others have been registered against the persons.
Despite repeated attempts, Chakraborty refused to respond.