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?