Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Civic engineer courts trouble in redevelopment row

Times of India‎‎: Mumbai: Wednesday, March 15, 2017.
Justice S J Kathawalla of the Bombay high court on Tuesday summoned a civic engineer to court for his promptness in replying to a query from the residents on a redevelopment project.
A builder, Kamla Realty (Bombay) had moved the HC for eviction of five members from a residential building in Borivli (west) alleging that they were holding up redevelopment when majority of the 19 had moved out.
"Who is this engineer? He should be given a medal,''said Justice Kathawala sarcastically. The judge asked civic counsel Joel Carlos about the engineer.. "This shows letters can be obtained from the BMC. I will send this man to the commissioner, let him lose his job...,'' said Justice Kathawalla directing the BMC lawyers to produce the assistant engineer (building proposal) and his superior, executive engineer too, to court on Wednesday.
The Judge got angry when informed by advocate Jitendra Damani that the assistant engineer had replied within a day to a letter he received on March 9, from his clients, 75-year-old Jashvant Shah and Anil Panchamia, residents of New Gopal Premises Cooperative housing society in Borivli, West who are opposing eviction. Damani said after filing a plea under RTI, his clients had sought information about status of the project. The next day the engineer said seven floors were approved but that Commencement Certificate was not yet issued.
The minority members had last July moved the HC and got interim relief against civic notice to vacate the dilapidated building for its demolition.
The case of the builder represented by advocates Vishal Kanade and M P Vora is that the few members were delaying the redevelopment work and should be evicted. The society's lawyer Amarendra Mishra supported the builder's claim. Advocate Damani said the letter to the engineer was only to "verify'' the status of the plans and whether additional FSI was granted. "If it is right or wrong the court will decide,'' he said. But Kanade said the engineers reply doesn't even mention TDR amount. Questioning the immediate reply by the engineer, the HC told the BMC lawyers, "This is a serious matter... If something is incorrect I will call for the files.'' ".. People should learn not to act smart with courts,'' the judge said.