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65 Buildings In Mankhurd Made To Enable SV Patel Constructions and Hiranandani-Akruti to reap undue profits?

6 June 2011 No Comment

RTI Activists team consisting of Sulaiman Bhimani, Sudhakar Malpe, Vasudev Shenoy and Homi Lord visited the colony of 65 buildings at Mankhurd for Project Affected People (PAP) and Slum rehabilitation. Of the 32 SRA projects handed over in Sept 2010 by MMRDA to MCGM, the team surveyed the ones listed at 7 and 8 on page 2 of this file: http://tinyurl.com/MMRDA-to-MCGM .  (Incidentally, the right-hand column of the table states that Hiranandani-Akruti’s approved layout plans, along with half-a-dozen others, are missing!)

By moving people from slums into Relief & Rehabilitation (R&R) projects, does MMRDA deliberately subject them to even worse conditions and endanger their health? This is what activists are asking after their recent survey of the R&R colony at Lallubhai Compound, Mankhurd, where DC regulations and architectural norms for designing human habitations have been thrown to the winds.

Was this neighbourhood of 65 buildings (about 9,300 residential tenements) designed to make the poor even poorer, while enabling builders SV Patel Constructions and Hiranandani-Akruti to reap undue profits? Greed, profiteering and collusion is writ large in this neighbourhood built in 2005. Poor natural lighting and air circulation, and terrible sanitation, have been designed into these sub-human habitations. Emotional distress, chronic sicknesses and the stench of excrement hangs in the air.

What is more, a continuous fire hazard hangs over the heads of around 50,000 people, a disaster waiting to happen, as the extreme closeness between buildings not only gives no space to allow fire-fighting vehicles to be brought into play, but actually facilitates the spread of fire and deadly smoke. For details of MUMBAI’S FIRE-SAFETY NORMS, read http://tinyurl.com/fire-safety-norms-flouted

The most striking violation is that 39 buildings with ground-plus-five storeys and 5,914 residential tenements had no lifts. These were built by S V Patel Constructions.

Another 26 buildings – ground-plus-seven storeys, constructed by Hirnandani-Akruti joint venture, have 3256 residential tenements. These buildings have lifts, but none of these lifts were found to be in working order!

DC Rule 19(2 of Reg 46) says that it is mandatory to have at least one lift shall be provided in a building more than 16 metre in height. The height of the ground-plus-five storey buildings is over 18 metres.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS:

1.      DESILTING OF NULLAHS & STORMWATER DRAINS NOT CARRIED OUT. Stormwater drains and the mouths of the drains are full of garbage. The area is full of stormwater drains full of rubbish, and nullahs that have obviously not been desilted. Also, there are many broken covers to open drains that crisscross the neighbourhood around the buildings.  One heavy rain is all that will take to create flooding and epidemic conditions, as water from the open sewage will flow on the streets.

2.      CHRONICALLY SICK BUILDINGS HAVE BEEN DESIGNED. “We could not stand the stink around these perennial damp buildings, which are only 5 years old, but already look like they are 50!” says Sulaiman Bhimani, who is an interior designer. “MMRDA is spending crores of rupees on their maintenance already, while the builders have made their money by cutting corners, and washed their hands off,” he adds.

3.      INSUFFICIENT DRINKING WATER SUPPLY. Water is provided during night for about 15 minutes only per 24 hours.

4.      NARROW DIAMETER DRAINAGE PIPES. less than the regulation requirements – cause flooding in the toilets and bad smells. Improper drainage system makes terrible hygienic conditions.

5.      NARROW PASSAGES BETWEEN BUILDINGS – BARELY 3 METRES. The narrow alleys between these very large buildings causes terrible ventilation in houses. Combined with widespread leakages during monsoon due to bad quality construction, this is the cause of year-round dampness in ceilings and walls.

6.      LEAKAGE FROM ALL PIPES. Pipes from kitchen, bathrooms, toilets are all leaking – making the entire complex a breeding ground for mosquitoes year-round. Almost all the residents have been suffering from repeated bouts of malaria, water-borne and air-borne diseases.

7.      SLIPPERY GROUNDS. People’s mobility in the alleys is hampered due to slippery grounds due to perennial leakage. The aged are perennially at risk of falling down and suffering fractures. Incidence of water-borne diseases is abundant.

8.      ONE SWEEPER FOR 69 BUILDINGS. There is a single for all these buildings. She is paid by residents. Needless to say, general cleanliness is not maintained in the entire neighbourhood.

9.      EMPTY BUILDINGS. There are six empty building without any security, lying vacant for past five years.

10.  POOR MUNICIPAL SCHOOL. There is a Municipal school of Marathi and English medium conducting classes upto Std X. However, residents prefer to send children to distant schools rather than send them to this school.

11.  EXTRA POINT OF INTEREST — MMRDA has licensed a country liquor bar opposite a temple. This is a violation of a BMC rule that wine shops, bars etc. should be away from places of worship.

The local cooperative housing societies are conducting irregular meetings and there is little participation of resident as they have lost faith in MMRDA to solve their persistent problems.

The team strongly opines that SPARC (Society for Promotion of Area Resource Center), an NGO that was the designated nodel agency to rehabilitate these project affected people from Masjid Bunder, Tilaknagar,  Tatanagar etc, has benefitted at the cost of these poor people, with the blessings of MMRDA, MHADA and BMC. It has not done its job, and it has allowed the builders – Hiranandani and S V Patel – to get away with murder.

As this is World Bank Funded Project, the team suggests that a joint visit should be conducted by MMRDA, MCGM and Govt of Maharashtra (CM’s Office) without prior notice.
PRESS CONTACTS

RTI Activist Union representatives

(This report is based on inputs by Malpe and Bhimani.)

Local persons:

  • Ms Kunda Krishna Keni   99878 25012
  • Subhash Shankar Nimave  022-6417 59 01
  • M G Pathan  98920 39457
  • Y H Nagdade   98927 72076

To understand overall context of this story, read

http://tinyurl.com/MMRDA-gift-to-25-builders

GIST OF EARLIER SURVEYS OF THREE OTHER R&R COLONIES:

i)                    On May 17, a team consisting of Sulaiman Bhimani, Sudhakar Malpe and Vasudev Shenoy started surveying 32 SRA projects that MMRDA recently handed over to MCGM. The fact-finding team visited the Nesco and Nirlon sites in Goregaon i.e. nos. 22 and 23 in the list on page 3 of http://tinyurl.com/MMRDA-to-MCGM.  The team took these photographs: http://tinyurl.com/Goregaon-Survey-17May-Photos . They reported that the building quality and living conditions at these sites were reasonable. The team observed that the passages were reasonably wide (1.5 metres as opposed to one metre at RNA’s project at Oshiwara District Centre or ODC), decent amounts of space between buildings, good recreational open spaces, and good numbers of trees.

ii)                  Earlier in February and March, Sulaiman Bhimani singlehandedly studied RNA Corp’s Relief & Rehab colony at Oshiwara District Centre (Jogeshwari West), constructed in 2005, which offer terrible living conditions to thousands of residents. As per MMRDA’s table, these are 12 Buildings with 1948 residential tenements, and 53 commercial properties – including the one that was allotted to Sulaiman Bhimani. But Bhimani points out that in actual fact, there are not 12 but 15 buildings, and 2600 tenements crammed into the same small area that was originally planned for only 1600 tenements (as per the agreement between MMRDA and RNA Corp.) One of these buildings was constructed on a space designated for a playground. “The cement work in these buildings is so bad that you can actually drive a two-inch nail into an RCC column with a single blow of a hammer,” remarks Bhimani, who is an interior designer. These pictures tell a story of squalor: http://tinyurl.com/RNA-Oshiwara

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