Bombay High Court on Monday directed the municipal commissioner to reconsider several permissions given to the swank Palais Royale tower in Worli,including the grant of floor space index (FSI) in lieu of refuge area,setback area,passages at manor level,swimming pool,area over deck and structural columns.
The court said that FSI against the refuge area was excessive,and asked the commissioner to reconsider the decisions within six weeks. The court,however,said the public parking lot adjacent to the highrise cannot be held as illegal.
A PIL filed by NGO Janhit Manch had challenged plans approved by the BMC for 56 storeys of the building that is supposed to be 75 storeys and 300 metres high. According to the PIL,the construction by the S S Kasliwal-promoted Shree Ram Urban Infrastructure Ltd (SRUIL) on the 28,409 sq m property was beyond the commencement certificate (CC) and in deliberate breach of the stop-work notices dated July 16,2011 and December 14,2011 and a demolition notice of December 19,2011 under section 53 of the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act,1966.
The apartments in the octagonal construction are in violation of a No-Objection certificate granted by the Chief Fire Officer (CFO) on December 30,2006,the PIL said.
Janhit Manch counsel Navroz Seervai and Jamshed Mistry told the court that SRUIL had misused the refuge area in the building,incorporated it into the habitable area and sold it. They said that the cumulative refuge area granted by the CFO free of FSI amounted to 72.22 per cent when a BMC circular of September 1993 stated that it could not exceed 4 per cent.
In their order,Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Anoop Mohta said,Even though there is no maximum cap on refuge and fire escape provided under the DCR (Development Control Regulations),it cannot be an arbitrary exercise and refuge area cannot be provided at an absurd percentage of built-up area. A situation where a developer is free to provide any extent of refuge area and claim an excessive exemption cannot be countenanced…
It is… clear from the stand of the corporation itself that the refuge area granted is in excess of the norms. To our mind once the planning authority comes to the conclusion that the recommendation of the Chief Fire Officer and the concessions granted by the commissioner based on such recommendation are faulty,it is not enough to merely institute an enquiry…
The planning authority cannot… choose to remain silent.
The court also asked the commissioner to reconsider the need for a nod from the Highrise Committee.
SRUILs plan for a three-basement,ground and 15-storey car park with a capacity of 900,was approved on August 20,2010. The construction of public parking plot is not illegal,as alleged by the petitioners. The Respondent no. 5 (SRUIL) will be entitled to utilize the incentive FSI arising from the construction of PPL, the court held.
The PIL had raised a number of objections including the construction of toilets over the kitchen on the lower level of duplex flats. The court said that these could not be termed as unreasonable and arbitrary. It observed,We cannot sit with a magnifying glass and scrutinize every inch of the planning permission granted.
The SRUIL spokesperson said: The judgment was… in our favour. Palais Royale has been held to be legal till the top. The PPL too has been held to be legal. The issues pertaining to refuge etc. have been referred back to BMC to decide as per law within six weeks. All the work carried out by us is as per duly sanctioned plans and we will work with the BMC to allay their apprehensions,if any,pertaining to these other issues.