The Mumbai collector has questioned the grant of additional building rights to a subsidiary of a real estate major for construction of a multi-storeyed public parking facility next to Byculla zoo. The grant was approved by former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan about a month before he stepped down in September 2014.
But in a report submitted to state government on November 22 this year, Mumbai (City) collector Ashwini Joshi questioned the grounds for grant of approval — she pointed out that the plot in question was shown as a private plot at the time of approval, but her office records showed it was government-owned land.
On November 25, following Joshi’s objection, the Urban Development (UD) department under CM Devendra Fadnavis, wrote to the Mumbai municipality and the revenue department, seeking their views on the ownership row.
Norms permit additional buildable space of up to 50% of the built-up parking space, capped at a total buildable area up to four times the plot size.
According to official documents, on August 28, 2014, Chavan approved a proposal permitting Gliders Buildcon, a subsidiary of Piramal Realty, additional building rights totalling 4.39 lakh sq ft after accepting the latter’s proposal for building an eight-storeyed public parking lot on the land.
The property was in possession of Hrishikesh Mafatlal-led Mafatlal Industries (MIL) but documents show that the MIL executed a development rights agreement with Gliders Buildcon on June 17, 2011.
On September 2, 2014, following Chavan’s approval, the UD department, which was then under him, issued a Letter of Intent (LoI) permitting utilisation of additional construction rights.
Utilising the grant of incentive space, Gliders Buildcon proposed development of 12.16 lakh square feet next to the Byculla zoo. The high-end project, it proposed, would include two luxury skyscrapers, a rehabilitation building, and an independent building to re-house 10,000 spindles of an erstwhile mill.
Objecting to the property being identified as a private plot in the LoI document, Collector Joshi said the “property was part of a 6.26 lakh square feet government land that was originally leased to the Sassoon Spring and Weaving Company (SSWC) on September 1, 1913 for 99 years.”
On November 26, 1968, SSWC was amalgamated with the MIL. Official documents show that before the original lease was to expire in September 2012, the MIL approached the Collector’s office for renewal of lease and redevelopment of a portion of the property to revive mill activities, shut since 2000. Incidentally, the entire plot was reserved in the city development plan for expansion of the zoo. But in 2004, the then Sushil Kumar Shinde-led government deleted reservation for 50% land.
On May 9, 2012, the then Mumbai (City) collector Chandrasekhar Oak renewed MIL’s lease for another 30 years and permitted redevelopment of the dereserved portion on the condition that the remaining 50% land would be handed over free-of-cost to the municipal body for expansion of the zoo. But Jayant Nikam, Superintendent of Land Records, Mumbai (City), told The Indian Express: “Permission for additional construction rights under the parking lot scheme was never sought.”
Despite repeated requests for comments, the spokespersons for Gliders Buildcon did not respond. Chavan too was not available for comment.