NMMC has floated a proposal to convert the Vashi bus depot into a commercial complex to be built at a cost of Rs. 160 Crores approx. The proposal encompasses converting the existing NMMT bus depot in Sector 9 Vashi into an integrated bus terminus cum commercial complex. The project has an estimated cost of Rs. 159 Crores 80 Lacs 07 Thousand 060 inclusive of GST of which Rs. 5, 60, 00, 000 is being paid to the consulting architects Knight Frank Pvt Ltd., M/s The Firm & Shandhvi and Associates.
The project will come up on an area measuring 10, 276 square metres on the existing depot at the upmarket Vashi node. In accordance with NMMC’s development control rules (DCR), 1.5 FSI is permissible. Out of which 0.5 FSI will be utilized for NMMT and the remainder for commercial purposes. Around 75% of the total area is to be used for the movement of buses. The proposed commercial structure will be 21 floors. The second floor to the fourth floor will be reserved for parking facilities for 345 four-wheelers. The commercial area will be meant to house restaurants, banquet halls consultancy chambers, clinics, budget hotels and offices.
“MRTP ACT HAS BEEN VIOLATED IN THE PROJECT”
Social activist Anarjit Chauhan has taken the NMMC to task on the project for several violations. Speaking to NMTV he said, “The first violation by NMMC is of Section 37 (1) of the MRTP Act that makes it compulsory for NMMC to have made a public notification for the project and keep a hearing to take feedback, suggestions, objections from people. No hearing has been held in the case, though people of the area are against the project.”
“TREE PRESERVATION ACT HAS BEEN VIOLATED”
He added that, “even the Maharashtra Tree Preservation Act mandates NMMC to inform people that trees will be cut for any project. In this project approx. 122 trees will be cut but even that has not been made public. I received the same information through a RTI.”
“NATIONAL BIODIVERSITY ACT HAS BEEN VIOLATED”
The 1200 Crore worth consultant of the project Knight Frank had reportedly submitted an environment clearance in June 2018 following which NMMC issued the Rs 160 Crore work order in the name of Knight Frank. “This is a scam” says Anarjit Chauhan “as the company never took any approval or clearance for the project from the Thane Flamingo Creek Sanctuary and Central Empowerment Committee. These laws make its mandatory for any project in 10 km radius of the sanctuary to get a clearance as construction is being done in an eco-sensitive zone.”
He explains that the project is in complete violation of “The National Biodiversity Act and Wildlife Forest Act.
“CRIMINAL ACTION SHOULD BE INITIATED AGAINST THE SCAM”
Terming the case as an “environment clearance scam”, Anarjit Chauhan says that “I have written to the Secretary of the Forest Department. They must initiate criminal action against those responsible. The law calls for Rs. 10 lacs as penalty and 1 year rigorous imprisonment against violators.”
WHO ARE THE CONSULTING ARCHITECTS OF THE PROJECT?
The consortium of Knight Frank India Private Limited won the bid of consulting the project. This consortium included besides globally known Knight Frank Pvt Ltd., M/s The Firm & Shandhvi and Associates. Among the appointed consultant, the Firm is blacklisted by NMMC. The Firm belongs to architect Sandeep Ghwash. He was blacklisted as they were the architect for the NMMC School Building in Sector 11 Koperkhairane where a 12 year old boy Saurabh Chaudhari lost his life when the school iron-gate fell on him. A PIL has been filed in Bombay High Court in the death case of Saurabh Chaudhari. The petitioners have prayed that both “The Firm” and “M/s Ashwini Infra Development” should be permanently blacklisted and criminal action should be taken against both. Condemning the same, Anarjit Chauhan says, it’s unfortunate that the same contractor has been appointed a project of this magnitude. I urge NMMC Commissioner to launch an investigation against Knight Frank and others and their licenses should be revoked.”
“THIS PROJECT IS A CORRUPT CONSPIRACY”
Anarjit Chauhan says that “political interests” are at work in this project. “These people have converted Vashi into a node of slum level amenities. If the NMMC Commissioner and Forest Department do not look into my complaints, I will go to court.”