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BMC blames State’s IT department over FSI abuse by mill land owners

The BMC will likely point fingers at the State’s Information Technology (IT) department for allowing the commercial misuse of Floor Space Index (FSI) in former mill lands which were supposed to be converted into IT parks.

A senior civic official, who is familiar with the probe headed by BMC chief Ajoy Mehta into the December 29 fire at Kamala Mills, said they “have no clue about what comprises IT activity”. “It is the responsibility of the IT department to list out the exact space that has been given out for IT purposes. Our officials are not in a position to decide activities come under the IT banner,” said a senior civic official.

Officials said that the report, which will be submitted by Mehta to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis next week, would recommend a joint inspection by BMC and IT department officials of mill lands where owners had gained extra FSI under the scheme.

The probe into the fire at Kamala Mills, which claimed 14 lives, had brought into focus the issue of exploitation of the IT policy. Under the IT policy, builders are granted FSI of 2.66, as against the usual figure of 1.33, for development of IT parks on the condition that only 20 per cent of the additional FSI granted will be used for other commercial purposes. Doubts were earlier raised whether the builders were converting space to open restaurants, shops and bars illegally after development. As many as 14 former mills were granted extra FSI under the IT policy.

Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil had first raised the issue of misuse of FSI under the IT policy in mill land redevelopment in the state legislature in 2016. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had then assured that the BMC would conduct an inquiry. But despite orders from the CM, the BMC’s Building Proposal (BP) department failed to pass on the building plans to the particular ward for carrying out the audit.

“BMC records do not have any mention of which spaces are designated for IT purpose. So, even if we have approved plans, we can’t find out if there is any real IT activity going on or not,” said the official.

Officials from the BMC’s Building Proposal (BP) department said that though they had put up all the approved plans for all mills lands online, it wasn’t possible for the BMC to define any IT activity. “This is the job of the IT department and the report will suggest that the IT department be asked to step in,” the official said.

“All possible angles and roles of all those involved are being investigated. A detailed report will be submitted soon,” said Mehta.

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