Compounding the error

By TheHindu on 13 Nov 2017 | read

In November 2013, headlines and prime time talking heads were all agog about Campa Cola Compound. In one of the most contentious cases of illegal construction in the city, residents of 97 flats across 35 floors in a housing colony in upmarket Worli were faced with losing their homes, because they had been built in violation of Floor Space Index (FSI) limits, air space norms, and other development regulations. The residents claimed to have been deceived by unscrupulous builders who had brazenly flouted the law. Residents are still in their flats, but they are still not in the clear despite years spent in court; their matter of regularising now lies before the Urban Development Department.

At the time, many Mumbaikars realised, with some trepidation, that they too hadn’t checked whether their buildings had the mandatory Occupation Certificate and a Completion Certificate. As if playing on their fears, within months, it became apparent that Campa Cola was by no means an isolated case. There were many such buildings all across the Mumbai Metropolitan Region and, indeed, in practically every other Indian city. Lakhs of families wondered whether they too faced the prospect of watching their homes be reduced to rubble.

New rules to the rescue

On October 7, 2017, the Urban Development Department put into effect the Maharashtra Town Planning (Compounded Structures) Rules, 2017. The rules allow for regularising unauthorised structures that came up on or before December 31, 2015, provided that the structures conform to certain norms, and after payment of certain fees. While it may not benefit Campa Cola — experts say there are multiple violations and complexities to reckon with there — its supporters say the new rules will help many other victims of deceitful builders. But, town planners and activists warn, every Mumbaikar may be forced to pay the price of this decision.