Chavan sets up panel to probe missing BMC files

Says a majority of files relate to projects before 1991-92,when govt changed development control rules

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai | Published: July 24, 2013 2:20:16 am

The state government Tuesday said 10,531 building proposal files were missing from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC),prompting an outrage among some political parties like the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. The missing number is significantly higher than the estimates of RTI activists who had earlier claimed that 5,997 files were missing.

Admitting the lapse in the Legislative Assembly,Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said the government has ordered a two-member committee of senior bureaucrats to probe the case of these 10,531 missing files. “It is a matter of grave concern,” he said. According to him,almost 90 per cent of the files related to projects prior to 1991-92,or in other words much before the development control rules were amended.

A building construction file includes blueprints including design,entry and exit areas,fire safety and other aspects. It also keeps record of the Floor Space Index (FSI) granted to a builder.

Activists had raised an alarm that if a file goes missing,builders may exploit the situation to manipulate and construct more storeys in violation of the FSI allowed to them.

Despite demands by a section of the Opposition for a CBI probe,Chavan said the committee will first investigate the case of missing files and present a factsheet before the government. He said every file generally is routed through four critical departments which have the record of proposals.

“If we find out that files have gone missing from all these four departments,it would establish foul play. At present,we cannot state what could be the real motive behind the missing files,” he said.

MNS leader in state Assembly Bala Nandgaonkar demanded action against the officers in the BMC and the Urban Development department responsible for this lapse. Citing examples,he said,“A project in Worli was allowed to construct seven floors. The developer violated the norms and went ahead with a 60-floor construction. The work has been stopped following complaints. There are several such instances where FSI sanctioned has been revised and original plans thwarted.”

According to MNS,the investigation through state bureaucrats will not lead anywhere as those involved in the scam had “high connections”.

The BJP was,however,not keen on CBI inquiry. “If you demand an enquiry by the CBI that is already short-staffed,the case would be delayed for several years,” said a BJP leader.

The missing files include the controversial Patliputra Cooperative Housing Society at Versova,Navy’s Ashwini Hospital,Tata Institute of Science research centre,Taj Hotel in Colaba,the oil major-Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL),Opera House Theatre,sub-station and offices of the utility agency,BEST (Brihanmmbai Electric Supply & Transport),Traffic Police training station at Byculla and other private companies including cellular companies such as Idea Cellular,Hutchinson Max (Vodaphone).

An RTI query by activist Sharad Yadav had revealed that 5,997 files were missing from the building construction proposals department in suburbs and island city and respective ward offices.

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