What started off as a routine exercise for residents of aMahim building, who were seeking conveyance from their developer, has unearthed a major real estate scam worth Rs 550 crore.The developer, 14 years after con structing a rehab building and two wings of a sale building, approached authorities to construct two new buildings and take advantage of higher FSI.
The reason given was that six tenants from old structures needed to be rehabilitated, and he was constructing new buildings to house them while the rest would be sold. The tenants, however, had been rehabilitated in 1996, exposing developer’s lie.
The project pertains to land owned by St Michael’s Church at Marinagar, opposite Mahim station, and given to Suraj Estate Developers in 1991. The understanding was the developer would demolish 13 cottages, rehabilitate the tenants, and construct sale component to recover costs. Five buildings of three storeys each in the compound were to remain untouched.
The developer obtained permission from MHADA to build a rehab building, a multi-storey sale building, and another two-storey sale building, and started construction in 1993.
By 1996, he constructed a multistorey sale building and a rehab building. Most thought that it was the end of development, but for the twostorey building.
However, in 2010, he submitted fresh plans to MHADA saying that six tenants from an old cottage were still to be rehabilitated. He sought permission for two buildings to rehabilitate them, and sell the rest. The buildings of 17 and 15 storeys were allowed on open spaces set aside for gardens. The developer did not commence construction immediately, but only barricaded the space.
Recently, residents of two wings of the sale building -Our Lady of Vailankanni and Perpetual Succour sought conveyance. “Since the developer opposed it, we dug up documents and found that two new buildings with FSI of 1.8 lakh were sanctioned on grounds that six tenants were to be rehabilitated. But documents show that the tenants were rehabilitated over a decade ago. It’s nothing but a scam. After loading on 1.8 lakh FSI, the developer will be able to sell 2.5 lakh sq ft for Rs 25,000 psf which, after deducting construction cost, would get him Rs 550 crore,“ said A M Sodder, secretary of the sale building. Residents further allege that FSI of five old buildings not part of the agreement was also used by the developer.
“Tomorrow if the old buildings need redevelopment, there won’t be FSI left for them. Most importantly, construction of two new buildings is allowed on areas demarcated as gardens,“ said Alred Pareira, a resident.
The residents of the old buildings and two wings of the sale building have now complained to MHADA, alleging that their officials colluded with the developer. MHADA, in turn, have ordered a probe. Ramesh Surwade, who is holding charge of chief officer, repair board, said, “I will hear all sides on September 5, and then pass an order.“
Suraj Estate Developers, on their part, claim everything is in order. Thomas Rajan, chairman and MD, said they had not touched FSI of five old buildings while getting two new ones sanctioned. “The buildings were considered while calculating FSI, but their area later deducted. As for construction on garden spaces, we have now moved the location across the plot and kept aside mandatory area for open spaces,“ said Rajan.
Regarding the six residents, Rajan admitted they were rehabilitated in 1996. “But I gave them houses from my share of sale component. I had promised that when rules are amended and higher FSI granted, I will give them bigger houses. Now in the two new buildings, I will give them bigger flats and take back the old ones,“ said Rajan.
While Rajan is convinced there are no irregularities, MHADA officials reveal that tenants cannot be rehabilitated multiple times and a new scheme floated.