Former architect of Campa Cola buildings,Jayant Tipnis has said the affected residents,the civic administration as well as top politicians were aware of the illegalities in the structures.
Despite being aware of the illegalities,these residents bought homes in the compound as they were being sold at very low rates, Tipnis,70,told Newsline. Tipnis was roped in as a replacement for B K Gupta,the original architect for the Campa Cola buildings,in 1985. Guptas licence was cancelled by the BMC in 1984.
The architect (Gupta) was involved in the Pratibha building at Breach Candy. The BMC had ordered demolition of top floors of the 36-storey structure for FSI violations, says Tipnis. It is then that B K Gupta turned into the builder of part of the Campa Cola buildings. The fact that these buildings were being built without mandatory permissions was openly known, he adds.
Tipnis has been part of many other projects of Yusuf Patel,who was one of the four builders for the Campa Cola structures. He was also an architect for buildings constructed for taxi drivers by the then socialist leader George Fernandez in 1970s.
The Supreme Court verdict of February 2013 on the case says: Although the members of the housing societies knew that the construction had been raised in violation of the sanctioned plan and permission for occupation of the buildings had not been issued by the competent authority,a large number of them occupied the illegally constructed buildings.
The building does not have an occupation certificate,which is granted only if it meets construction norms.
According to Tipnis,civic officials and residents were aware of Patels reputation as a smuggler. I approached the BMC several time to get the plans for upper floors approved. Later,the BMC issued stop-work notices for these floors. Gradually,civic officials stopped taking any action, says Tipnis. He resigned in 1986 after the BMC refused to regularise the illegal floors. He was,however,brought back in 1994.
I joined him (Patel) and worked with him on many projects in Nagpada and Byculla, says Tipnis. As a person,he was a very nice man. But his reputation of his earlier days was enough for civic officials to listen to him. There was corruption in the BMC and he would grease many palms, says Tipnis.
When the residents decided to approach the BMC for water connections knowing that the building does not have the mandatory OC,I warned them that this could lead to trouble. A section of residents felt that they could bring in influential lawyers such as D S Gandhi who had won many cases against BMC, says Tipnis,who had previously urged various chief ministers to help in regularisation of the unauthorised flats.
I approached Sushilkumar Shinde,Vilasrao Deshmukh and Ashok Chavan,but the issue remain unresolved, says Tipnis. He resigned last month after residents hired another architect to approach the BMC for regularisation.