Campa Cola compound case

Some questions on the Campa Cola compound FSI violations and the planned demolition of additional floors

My friend Abhijit Mehta called me last week asking what has been my view on the Campa Cola compound case and whether we should be involved in some way. I have not been vocal on the issue even as much as the subject interests me and so thought of capturing some thoughts here.

1. What will the demolition achieve? If there was some wisdom to be gained and translated into robust procedures to nip FSI violations in the bud just by demolishing the additional floors in Campa Cola then by all means this should be done. But such does not seem the case.

2. An example is made in news reports where action is being taken in Bandra (W) on a recent building which has risen to 18 floors. The Bandra Khar belt is supposed to be rife with FSI violations. Why can information not be available earlier?

One way of handling such violations is making full public disclosure of the plans and layouts of each new construction happening in the city on a ward wise basis. All such information should be displayed on the website. This will enable activists, vigilance authorities and others to be aware and bring to notice any irregularities. The process of doing this will act as a big deterrent for architect and builders to not engage in any irregularities in the first place. Buyers will also have peace of mind.

Understanding FSI is not that difficult ultimately. Ballpark anybody can approximate what the amount of built up area can be constructed on a plot. An FSI of 1 means 1000 sqm of built up space can be constructed on a 1000 sqm plot. If TDR or fungible FSI and other such different FSI’s come in they can accordingly be computed. If all buyers do not find it easy some definitely can understand. One part of stopping violations clearly need to be a large scale awareness about FSI in the city.

The focus should not be as much on handling violations with retrospective effect (required in some cases certainly) but more on prospectively putting in place strong systems and procedures to stop future violations.

3. Why is it that illegal floors in Campa Cola alone have become such a big issue? Whole illegal buildings can be shown in Mumbai, which have been constructed in the last decade, why is the municipal corporation not doing anything about those?

Juhu Tara Road is full with blatant CRZ 1 violations – not even CRZ 2. Whole buildings have been redeveloped with their boundary wall abutting the beach. Warden Road, Goregaon, Malad, all areas have numerous such violations. If Campa Cola violations have to be punished, action should wait till BMC carries out an exhaustive survey of all such violations and charts a plan for similar action.

When similar urgency of action is not displayed by BMC in other similar cases then it raises suspicion that there is some malafide intention in addressing only this issue. Possibly somebody has other plans, which will be facilitated by his demolition and the BMC officials are now facilitating those plans just as they once facilitated the plans for additional illegal floors? It is more likely than not in the way the BMC is governed.

Forget all other examples, why is there no such urgency in case of Adarsh? People have not yet established their lives in this building and it can be demolished as of yesterday.

I do not favour the demolition of Adarsh but that is a separate point. Here I am making a case for not showing bias and applying the rules and procedures equally to all violators carrying out a similar violation.

4. At a time when housing in Mumbai is such a difficult issue it is completely unacceptable on humanitarian and practical grounds to be carrying out the Campa Cola demolitions. I am not sure whether it has been proven beyond doubt that the residents in the illegal floors purchased those flats with full knowledge that these were illegal and were confident of evading action or buying their way through.

The demolitions of the illegal floors will possibly have a damaging impact on the legal ones as well and make the building unsafe for habitation. What happens in that case?

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About Rishi

I am a prominent environmental activist in Mumbai, who has been closely involved with numerous issues in Mumbai since the late 90s, beginning activism in my early 20's. Over the years I have played a pioneering role towards the conservation of mangrove forests in Mumbai and worked on numerous urban issues in Mumbai aimed at improving the quality of life of Mumbai citizens. Solid waste management, tree cover, public transport, municipal budget and governance. View all posts by Rishi

8 responses to “Campa Cola compound case

  • jitendra

    U missed one point Rishi. Why no action on all those who r responsible of such irregularities to happen. Here, builder, and every officials on duty during that time as well in latter years is accountable and should be made to pay price by sealing their personal asserts and distributing them among those who got affected, assuming and giving benefit of doubt that purchasers where not aware of irregularities. some shoud happen with every irregular starture in city including entire Thane, Kalwa, mumbar, and Ulhasnagar. And why not make it mandatory to display on site total FSI with clearly mention of numbers of floors and area used on each floor so that even a laymen could understand it.

  • jacobobama

    The government is completely responsible. There should be a law that only a legal buildings should get power water and the govt. is authorized to collect tax. The govt collects tax for years and then suddenly kicks the residents out one day this is completely illegal and the supreme court has nothing to say about this. Will the govt. now return all the illegal tax they have collected from the residents witrh interest??? The whole country is one big fraud. we are heading for complete anarchy. For more read:- Patrika news

  • Nitika Satya

    The most culpable in this case are the builders who conveniently carried out the illegal construction of floors and now will again benefit from demolitions as they can now construct new flats again n sell. BMC also deserves to bear the brunt but not as much as the builders who are going scot-free.
    U came up with a very good proposition that before the demolitions are carried out, BMC should carry out an exhaustive survey of all such violations and chart a plan for similar action.

  • Jitendra Lonkar

    Why do you mention only about FSI violations by the rich – Juhu Tara Road, Warden Road, etc. Slums are also encroachments and in many cases on eco-sensitive areas such as hill slopes and mangroves. The cost of SCLR and JVLR has increased by more than 40% due to R& R forget about the inordinate delay. Ultimately its the middle class that suffers, In this country it is a taboo to talk against the poor. The larger issue of corruption will always remain but there is a need for substantial real estate and land reforms and the current LARR act is a leap backward on this front.

  • Dhaval

    Dear Rishi,

    A very good blog indeed. However, many questions will continue to remain unanswered.
    If nearly half of all buildings in the city do not have OCs, what happens to the residents living there?

    * Could any of these “illegal” buildings be “legally” regularised by levy of penalties etc.? On what parameters will one judge the intensity of the offences to enable such regularisation – especially since occupation without OC itself is illegal, as recently maintained by the Bombay High Court? Who will fix these parameters?

    * What about the residents? How many of them would have gone on to start a life in their homes with the full knowledge of the offences and that they will conveniently – as you have written – evade action when the time comes or buy their way through? How will one judge whether the resident was really innocent-and-cheated or intentionally involved in the illegality? Who will judge the innocence or complicity innocence of the residents? Can this be ever judged at all?

    * In case of FSI violations you might do away with the illegal floors – as the Honourable Supreme Court judges in all their wisdom decided to do with Campa Cola buildings – But what will you do in case of OC non-compliance for other reasons? Evict all residents and let the structure remain to rot? Especially in all cases of the grossly misused ‘refuge areas’ in hundreds of buildings around the Bandra-Khar-Juhu belt?

    * What happens to the principles of equity and fairness of applicability of law when the state dishouses taxpaying residents for no apparent fault of theirs, while at the same time creates free housing stock for slum residents?

    * Why the Supreme Court suddenly wake up to the “human problem” as it has observed in its today’s injunction order “besides the other legal issues”? Why were the Honourable Justices of the SC blind to the “human problem” when they ordered the demolitions in the first place? Is this not a case of ‘human rights violation’ but the country’s Apex Court?

    * If the action against Campa Cola sets a precedent for all illegal buildings in the city, will that mass action be without any “mass human problem”?

    * Isn’t it ironical, even sarcastic, to consider building a separate building for in-situ rehabilitation of the residents affected by the Campa Cola demolition? In that case, wouldn’t regularisation of all the illegal floors been a simpler solution? Wouldn’t it have been the most cost-effective and amicable solution? Is the Honourable Supreme Court waiting to be ‘enlightened’ by some hotshot legal counsel on such a way out?

    There can be hundreds more of such questions – especially on the builder-politician-bureaucrat nexus – which I have not even raised. And they are all beyond foolproof answers.

    As you have correctly mentioned, any long-term solution can only be in lieu of how to stop such cancer in concrete to spread in the future through efforts like compulsory public disclosure of approved plans henceforth.

    For it will be impossible to either legally – or importantly, judiciously and fairly – clean-up the existing rot. As when it comes to homes, in and around which lives and dreams are built, being legal might not be being judicious and fair as this horrible Campa Cola case has so painfully revealed.

    Best regards,

    Dhaval

  • Roshni Udyavar

    Some things about this case….1) what is the demolition going to achieve…it may even damage some buildings where lower floors are legal?
    2) why now? why nothing was done for all these years? who were the municipal officers who allowed it for all these years
    3) How can the apartments be called illegal ….when they have been collecting property tax from the residents for nearly 30 years!
    4) Just on humanitarian grounds….this eviction should not be done….there are people who have not only paid for the flats (may be less as Mr. Tipnis claims) but have been paying all taxes…
    5) I have a whole lot of slums which have appeared on the pavements near my house…over the last three years, I see them getting water supply…flag hoisting from local police officer on independence day….and office of Congress located right in their midst! I am quite sure, in a few years, they will be allotted permanent flats for free!

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