FOLLOWING A Bombay High Court order, the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) has come to the aid of 123 tenant families of a central Mumbai property that they vacated in 2012 for a redevelopment project, which has remained stalled.
MHADA has now cancelled the no-objection certificate (NOC) given to R B Builders & Developers for the development of the Panwala Trust building in Lalbaug. In addition, an officer from MHADA’s repair board said the agency will submit a special plan to acquire the land of the project.
On January 28, the HC had directed MHADA to acquire the land where the developer stopped construction work and left 123 families stranded. A bench of Justice Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Justice Revati Mohite-Dere noted that R B Builders and Developers had been given 15 days in December 2018 to clear the rent arrears to 123 tenant families to start construction work and to complete it within two-and-a-half years.
The December 7, 2018 order by the chief of the Mumbai Building Repairs and Reconstruction Board, a MHADA undertaking, also stated that if the developer defaults, the NOC would be cancelled and a special land acquisition proposal would be submitted to the state government.
The court heard a petition filed in April 2017 by tenants of the two Panwala Trust buildings. The tenants had sought that the court direct the developer to submit a time-bound schedule for completing the redevelopment project on the plot that is spread on an area of nearly 1,300 sq m. Construction has not proceeded beyond the plinth level.
The developer had purchased the property at an auction. Then, an agreement was entered into with the tenants to give them permanent housing and to complete reconstruction within 36 months.
The Mumbai Building Repairs and Reconstruction Board’s chief officer Dinkar Jagdale told The Indian Express that it has cancelled the NOC given to the project. He added that the board will soon take over the project, for which it would first get a plan sanctioned by the state government. The board will then present its plan to the high court.
Earlier, the tenants’ advocate, Subhash Bane, had told the court that his clients have been out of their homes since 2012. Since January 2016, the builder reportedly stopped paying rent. MHADA had issued several showcause notices to the builder asking why the NOC should not be cancelled for violating conditions. After a final notice, it passed the December 7, 2018 order.
Bane told the court that even after the December order, rent arrears were not paid and construction had not begun. “Consequences of the defaults are stipulated in the order,” the court said in its January 21, 2019 order, directing MHADA and the repair board to “take appropriate steps as per law within four weeks”.