Not just Ghatkopar, Shiv Sena’s Shitap built illegal structure in Powai too: Mumbai residents

The residents have alleged that the lounge is illegal.

mumbai Updated: Aug 11, 2017 01:13 IST
Yesha Kotak
Yesha Kotak
Hindustan Times
Ghatkopar,building collapse,Sunil Shitap
In the Ghatkopar collapse, 17 people were killed.(Prashant Waydande)

In yet another trouble for Shiv Sena leader Sunil Shitap, who was arrested in connection with the building collapse in Ghatkopar, residents of Powai have filed a complaint with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to demolish his Rumours Lounge (formerly known as Rude Lounge).

They have alleged that the lounge is illegal. A civil court is hearing the case.

“When the place is illegal, how does it have permission from the excise and the health departments? According to the Supreme Court orders, no establishment can serve alcohol within 100 metres of an educational institute. The area also has a temple,” said Balbir Singh, president of Powai Vikash Pratisthan.

In 2015, the Shipping Corporation of India filed a complaint to the assistant engineer (building and factory), S-ward, asking him to remove the structure from the location. When HT contacted the corporation, the authorities refused to divulge details.

Earlier in 2009, the BMC issued a notice to the lounge under section 351 of the MMC Act and asked Shitap to demolish the structure. But he got a court stay in the case.

There was a nursery and a helmet shop before the lounge was built, said a resident.

The place was then owned by the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada).

According to records obtained by HT, Mhada issued a notice to Shitap in 2016, alleging that they were illegally using the place. Shailesh Shetty, who handles operations at Rumours, told HT that he was not aware of various notices.

Taking cognisance of the complaint by residents, the S-ward authorities removed all cigarette stalls a week ago, but failed to take action against Rumours.

Speaking to HT, a BMC official said that these stalls were removed because they occupied the place recently.

“Though, a notice was issued to Rumours in 2009, we cannot proceed in the matter unless asked by the court. The hearing is on in the matter and there is a stay on the structure. When asked if the lounge was illegal, the officer said that an eatery is allowed next to an educational institute,” said the official.

Shitap was arrested on July 25, the day the building collapsed, while contractor Anil Mandal was arrested on July 29. Both of them are in police custody.

Consultants get 15 days to audit unsafe buildings in city

Following the Ghatkopar building collapse that claimed 17 lives, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has asked its consultants to submit structural stability reports of all dilapidated buildings within 15 days. There was no timeline specified by the BMC before this, which led to delays in reports.

According to the notification, if structural consultants fail to comply with the new timeline, they will be removed from the panel and can even be blacklisted.

After a building collapse at Dockyard Road in 2013, which killed 61 people, the BMC started to carry out structural audits of buildings older than 30-year-old. As structural audits reports varied, many disputes occurred between residents and owners.

To iron out anomalies, the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) was formed in 2014. The TAC plays a crucial role in deciding the nature of dilapidated buildings in the city. Buildings under the C1 category are the most dangerous and need to be demolished.

The TAC has a final say whether a building will go for redevelopment or needs repairs. In the Ghatkopar building too, the residents were in dispute with Shitap, who had claimed that the building needed to be redeveloped.

Residents and owners can appoint structural consultants empanelled by the BMC to carry out structural stability of the building.

Consultants (each appointed by different parties) have to undertake specific scientific tests such as velocity test, cement aggregate, chemical analysis among others listed by the civic body and have to submit the report for the TAC to study.

First Published: Aug 11, 2017 01:04 IST