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“Towers of Shame on Palm Beach Road will be razed” – asserts Thane Guardian Minister Ganesh Naik on Weekend Exclusive

The shameful bias attitude of NMMC administration of favoring influential builder’s lobby continues to reflect in the case of gross FSI violations done by builders of towers on Palm Beach Road. The administration has still not initiated a third party survey as has been ordered by Thane Guardian Minister Ganesh Naik. On the contrary they are considering regularizing the illegal construction in the towers. However, this time the officials-builders nexus might not have it their way as Thane Guardian Minister Ganesh Naik has asserted that tower of shame on Palm Beach Road will not be regularized. They will be razed.

These towers on Palm Beach Road have become symbols of the corruption that plagues the NMMC Town Planning Department. Despite massive FSI violations by these towers, all NMMC has done in the last 9 months, is conducted one enquiry on paper. As we have been already highlighting, the towers on Palm Beach Road grossly violate fire safety norms, constructing illegal floors, covering stilt area meant for parking and have done major FSI violations. These violations were first brought to light in a campaign started by NMTV last year. The impact of the campaign was that corporators raised the issue in the Standing Committee and demanded NMMC Commissioner Bhaskar Wankhede to initiate an enquiry into the violation done by towers on Palm Beach Road.

Under pressure from corporators; the Commissioner Bhaskar Wankhede ordered an investigation in the issue by forming a committee. What disappointed everyone later was that the responsibility of the enquiry was given to the same officials of the TPO who were accused of playing hand in glove with builders for the FSI thefts and violations. Nonetheless everyone waited for the two months period of the survey to get over. Unfortunately, two months got over but the survey was still not completed. Finally, after almost 4 months, the TPO completed the survey that nailed the violations by towers on Palm Beach Road. Post the survey, 23 builders were sent notices for the violations they committed in their project. And they were given the deadline of April 19 to reply to the show cause notices. It’s been three months to this deadline, and even today there has been no action taken. At the NMMC Town Planning Office, the Asst. Director of Town Planning Sanjay Banait is ready with a list of excuses for not taking action against FSI violations by towers on Palm Beach Road. His excuses once again raise questions whether the administration is helping builders “regularize” their violations.

As has become like a modus operandi, the encroachment dept. and TPO are only exchanging letters instead of razing the illegal construction made by towers on Palm Beach Road. Though NMMC survey has brought on record FSI theft and violations by builders, many allege the level of violations has been brought down. And that is why instead of the TPO, a third party should have been assigned the responsibility of conducting the survey and making a report on Palm Beach Towers. City journalist Jayesh Samant, who has been reporting this issue has constantly been voicing this.

Though NMMC ignored this demand, it was Thane Guardian Minister Ganesh Naik who came out in support of a third party enquiry. In the janta darbaarheld on 16th June he informed the media his decision. However, what’s disgusting is that the NMMC administration continues to be ignoring the diktats of the Minister. Sanjay Banait feigns ignorance on the Minister’s orders and says that he has confidence in the enquiry done by his own officers.

Clearly, the NMMC administration for reasons not hard to understand is giving time and chance to builders on Palm Beach Road to regularize their violations. The reason for this is not hidden from anyone. The builder’s lobby, who have constructed towers on Palm Beach Road in violation of FSI norms are the most rich, influential and powerful builders of the city who have great influence on the NMMC Town Planning Office. This is the reason why even though post the High Court orders, NMMC is razing down all illegal constructions in the city, the towers of shame on Palm Beach Road are left untouched. The only hope of action against these towers is coming from Thane Guardian Minister Ganesh Naik. At this week’s janta darbaar when we raised the issue with the Minister he once again assured that he had ordered the Commissioner for a third party enquiry. The Minister also was completely against the TPO’s move to consider regularizing FSI violations by towers on Palm Beach Road.

Thane Guardian Minister Ganesh Naik’s orders to NMMC TPO is crystal clear – a third party enquiry is a must and no relief for builders who have done major FSI violations. The million-dollar question is “Are NMMC officials going to abide by the orders of the Guardian Minister?” On this Mayor Sagar Naik assued that they will ensure that Thane Guardian Minister Ganesh Naik’s order is followed and a third party survey is done on the issue.

While the rich and the mighty continue to be protected by NMMC officials, this time with the orders of the Thane Guardian Minister, if the officers of the TPO still favour builders on Palm Beach Road, they will be challenging the Guardian Minister Ganesh Naik himself. Now it is upto the NCP corporators led by Mayor Sagar Naik to ensure that the officials of NMMC do not make a mockery of their leader’s orders. With bureau inputs, Sana Warsia for NMTV News.

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