The Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) has issued stop work notices to four building projects near Mumbra, including one project by the civic body itself under the Basic Services for the Urban Poor, stating that the land needs to be acquired for the proposed Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project. However, the builders who have received these notices have already started construction. One of these four properties is already occupied by at least 100 flat buyers.
According to TMC officials, the stop-work notices were issued in May. “Right after the collector put up an advertisement stating that land acquisition for the bullet train was about to begin, we realised that the construction work might be in the way,” an official from the town development and planning department of the TMC said. As the measurement and surveys are still going on, the exact boundaries of the bullet train-affected region is yet to be demarcated.
Pramod Nimbalkar, town development and planning officer at the TMC, said, “Most of the regions are fallow land in that area. We have, however, issued stop-work notices. The developers had got their approvals long back and did not pay the due amount, nearly Rs 12 lakh, which was to be shelled out before they get occupancy certificates. Even the construction work had not begun.” He added, “Plus, the bullet train is a positive project, which will help the area’s growth.”
The notices were issued to three architects representing four builders: National Builders, PCC Infrastructure, Atlanta Limited and the BSUP cell of the TMC. The notice, issued by the executive engineer, addressing the land parcels by their Development Proposal number, read: “The said land, on which you are proposing to construct is being included in the Mumbai Ahmedabad high-speed project. (…) The project is facing problems because of the empty space in your project. Hence until the final decision is taken on the said land, you are instructed to not carry on any construction work on your empty space or the proposed site.”
While three out of six proposed buildings in the BSUP project are already constructed, two of three proposed buildings have been completed at the Atlanta project. These are already occupied. Two other builders, who received notices, did not respond to queries from The Indian Express.
On September 19, The Indian Express reported that Atlanta builders had filed a litigation against the Thane civic authorities in the Bombay High Court. The company challenged the TMC’s “totally bad and illegal” stop work notice dated May 2. The notice totem had claimed that the buildings were coming up on land, where the Rs 1.08-lakh crore Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project will come up. The court issued notices to the Thane Municipal Corporation and Collector seeking replies in the matter. The next date of hearing is not yet confirmed, said lawyers.
The developer has contended that of the 234 flats in two high-rises that were built in Phase I of the project, 229 have been sold. The third high-rise is under construction in Phase II.
The area of Shil Phata, where the bullet train project is expected to pass through, is a conglomeration of villages alongside a busy road, mostly clogged with heavy vehicles. Very close to Kalyan Phata, the Atlanta Enclave is a prime location as it is hardly six kilometres away from Navi Mumbai and 15 km from Kalyan. The scenic beauty of undulating green hillocks is also a major point to attract home buyers.
“We moved in last year and have been living here for over a year now. The third tower is under construction. The builders gave us possession in May 2017,” said Barshali Rai, a resident of the building. “It is close to Navi Mumbai and relatively close to Thane as well. The price was in our budget, so we took it,” she explained. However, she is unaware of the bullet train passing through the area.
Another resident requesting anonymity said, “We had heard that the third tower was stopped. But I don’t think it should affect us. If it does, I don’t know where my family and I will go. I have used all my savings for this house.”
Rajhoo Barot, Chairman and Managing Director at Atlanta Limited, claimed that the stop-work notices are a betrayal of trust by the TMC. “We have taken all due sanctions and permissions. People had started booking in the third tower.
There was a proposal of three more towers. All of it can’t be put on hold. We have given road space to TMC, we have even given them land to make their fire station nearby. I did delay payment in one place, but that was because of complication arising from RERA. I have, thus, taken the matter to court. If the stop-work notice is not quashed, we would lose close to Rs 20 crore and more.”