In response to a query under the Right to Information Act, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has admitted that it has no compiled data on how many buildings in the financial capital are still awaiting an Occupation Certificate and how many of these are actually already inhabited by flat-buyers.
An Occupation Certificate, or an OC, is a document issued by the municipal corporation or other urban local government body to indicate that the structure is compliant with approved plans as well as with existing laws and building codes. The buildings in Campa Cola compound in Worli, Mumbai were found to be unauthorised as they do not have this OC. While there has been a general demand from various quarters for the city's municipal body to act against all constructions occupied despite an absent OC or to make final decisions regarding which of these are to be regularised and which are to be demolished, it appears now that the BMC does not have a compiled database of such buildings.
Speaking in the Legislative Assembly last December, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan had said approximately 5,000 buildings in Mumbai do not have an OC. (Some of these may have a 'partial OC', say BMC officials.) Speaking in resonse to a calling attention motion on private developers' dues to the municipality, the chief minister, also the minister for urban development in Maharashtra, said the government would order a survey of such buildings before drawing up a policy on tackling the problems of citizens who had purchased flats in these buildings and were residing in them. (Such buildings are charged twice the regular rate by the BMC for water and property taxes.) Legislators have long held that such flat-buyers have been penalised in the form of higher living costs while builders and officials go unprosecuted.
That promised survey is yet to start.
Meanwhile, as recently as last month, the Bombay High Court ruled that it is against the law for citizens to move into flats that have not been granted an OC.
Hearing a petition filed by a cooperative society in Sion in which two wings were constructed without the mandatory clearances in which 50 families a nursing home are now based, the court directed action against the flat owners and the nursing home. The report estimated that about 6,000 buildings in Mumbai without an OC in which about 1 lakh families reside could be affected by the order.
While the promised survey on such buildings is yet to kick off, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, the country's richest municipal corporation with budget estimates of Rs 27,000 crore this year, has admitted in response to an RTI application that though there is a quarterly statement showing the total number of new proposals received by the Building Proposals department and of the total number of certificates issued (these are IOD or intimation of disapproval issued before the start of construction, the CC or commencement certificate that allows builders to initiate work and various stage-wise OCs and a final BCC or building completion certificate), there is no total tally of how many buildings are standing but awaiting the OC.
As per information accessed by RTI activist Anil Galgali, from 2003-04 to 2012-13, a 9-year period, the BMC's Building Proposals department received a total of 14,370 proposals for new buildings. In the same period, the BMC issued 9,841 IODs, 13,313 CCs, 6,888 OCs and 128 BCCs. Buildings still under construction would naturally not be granted an OC, but the BMC has failed to maintain a backlog of how many structures granted a CC earlier are still to be given an OC. Or of how many such structures are already occupied.
"Many times builders are denied the OC because they do not follow the norms or there are clear violations in the construction or departures from the approved building plans. Not maintaining a record or tally of these cases is shocking," said Galgali.
Updated Date: Nov 14, 2013 15:25:35 IST