36 Floor ‘Tower of Irregularities’ at
Altamount Road, South Mumbai
Who said 2 and 2 make 4 ?
A few people believe that 2 and 2 make 22.
They plan things that way.
And they also make this weird mathematics work for them.
I am referring to the promoters of the 36-storey under construction building in one of the most swanky areas of South Mumbai - on Altamount Road – close to the famous Antilia.
Antilia, named after the mythical Atlantic island of Antillia is, the
27-floor home of Mukesh Ambani. You can read more about it in Wikipedia.
Antilia is situated on an ocean-facing 4,532 square metres (48,780 sq ft) plot at Altamount Road, South Mumbai, where land prices are upward of US$10,000 per square metre. In August 2008, Altamount Road was the 10th most expensive street in the world at US$25,000/sq m (US$2,336 per sq foot).
The purchase of the land on which Antilia stands is mired in mystery and covered in a veil of secrecy. In 2002, this property was purchased by Antilia Commercial Private Limited – a Mukesh Ambani entity – from the Currimbhoy Ebrahimbhoy Khoja Trust, in direct contravention of Section 51 of the Wakf Act.
Currimbhoy Ebrahim Khoja Yateemkhana (Orphanage), a charitable institution, sold the land allocated for the purpose of education of underprivileged Khoja children, to Antilia Commercial Private Limited in July 2002 for Rs 21.05 crore. The market value of the land at the time was at least Rs.150 crore.
There were a number of other problems and hurdles involving the deal, including litigation, but all these were gradually resolved.
Tower of IrregularitiesNow, close to Antilia, a 36-storey building, under construction on Altamount Road, has been nicknamed the ugliest building of the area and has also earned the infamous term ‘the Tower of Irregularities’.
Just take a quick look at the list of irregularities.
The 17th to 36th floors of the under-construction building has 20 duplex apartments. Each flat measures 2,300 square feet. Nothing great about this!
There are several flats in the area with much larger areas.
However, each flat:
- Is surrounded by two 471 sq ft of air-handling units
(ostensively for installing the air conditioning units).
- Has 791 sq ft lily ponds,
- A 368 sq ft letter box and
- Other ‘amenities’ covering over 8,000 sq ft.
- Each of these FSI-free spaces is larger than the living room (342 sq ft).
- The building has an astounding 317 parking slots for just 20 duplex flats, a mere 16 cars per flat.
In essence, where the basic FSI would permit construction of 53,000 sq ft only, the total construction area, including the FSI-free areas, has been stretched to 4.67 lakh sq ft, or 9 times the permissible area. Calculate the mind boggling money involved……..
But the builder may not be lucky
Krishna Developers, the builder may be heading for serious trouble. The residents of three neighbouring housing societies – Prithvi, Jupiter and Prabhu Kutir Apartment – had filed a series of complaints with the Urban Development Ministry and the municipal corporation seeking a stop work order. But there was no such order.
52 housing societies of the locality have joined hands to fight the construction which they believe flouts all development control rules. The Altamount Road Area Citizens Committee (ARACC), an umbrella body of all Altamount residential buildings, has taken up the issue.
They have decided to file a PIL against Krishna Developers.
The locals claim, “Altamount Road is already stretched beyond its limits with the vehicular traffic and cars parked on both sides obstructing movement through the day and night. Fire tenders are unable to reach the site of a fire thereby resulting in substantial damage to property and the safety of our residents is under threat”….
“The design of this building is such that it will be impossible for a fire engine to reach the building from the entrance. The fire engine would also be unable to go around the building in case of a fire”.
Role of Government Agencies
The building plans for the 36-storey building were approved by BMC, the civic body, in 2007. So long, the government authorities have turned the proverbial Nelson’s eye to the various allegations.
The Bombay High Court may soon have to decide the issue. The freebies extended to the builders are far too excessive to be overlooked.
What should be done
Merely cancelling a portion of the construction will not be a sufficient deterrent. All those responsible should be suitable punished.
Land prices are very high in Mumbai. And they are the highest in South Mumbai. It is natural that builders and the govt. authorities connive with each other and misuse all the legal provisions. The stakes are much too high.