Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Campa Cola illegal constructions in Mumbai

Read an article on Campa Cola illegal constructions today [The Hindu]. Municipality had given permission for construction of only 5 floors but over time, 35 extra floors had been created! The residents had gone to court demanding water supply, but the municipality had protested this claiming the construction was illegal. Now, armed with a court order, the municipality wants to demolish the additional floors but the residents are blocking this move. The chief minister of Maharashtra has refused to issue an ordinance regularising the structure. Opposition MLAs have jumped in to support the residents.

I do not understand the housing problem in Mumbai much. There are too many high-rise buildings in Mumbai. You don't see that many in Chennai, though a few have emerged recently, in particular along the Old Mahabalipuram Road. Even then, they are probably around 10 floors. In the middle of the city, it is usually ground+3 or ground+4.

I have read a fair bit about construction in Chennai in violation of the permit given. Usually a shady builder will add a floor more (if four floors are granted, build a fifth one) and then hope that (a) nobody finds out and (b) if found out, pay some fine and regularise the same. But what is shocking to me is, how could someone build 35 extra floors when the original permission was for a mere 5 floors? This is some audacity.

A few famous shops in T.Nagar business district were penalised over the last few years for illegally adding 2-3 floors, or for not having enough parking space. Some demolition happened in case of Saravana Stores, but then the whole thing fizzled out.

The normal middle class response to this is that the officials and the politicians take bribe and let these shops run unchecked. But now, decent upper middle class folks of Campa Cola compound have willingly violated the law and are refusing to vacate their premises. Chances are that most residents of Mumbai will side with the law-breakers. If that is the case, how can we demand that the politicians and the government officials clean up their act? I can clearly see a whole bunch of politicians sympathising with poor Lalu Yadav spending time in prison for stealing a few paltry crores!


I can see a bunch of violations by decent middle class people in Chennai.
  1. Unauthorised floors above the permit.
  2. Not leaving enough space between the compound wall and the construction inside, thereby blocking air and sunlight to the neighbouring building.
  3. Encroaching on public space by extending their construction into the kerb.
  4. Letting out space including the footpath for shops. [My earlier apartment complex had a problem like this. The idiot who owned the commercial space in the ground floor had rented it out to a food joint. This was not to be done - it was meant only for stationery or mobile or such shops. Anyway, the food joint simply gobbled up the entire footpath in front. The food shop fellow asked us to talk to the owner. We fought with the owner, who simply dodged us. The problem continues. I have moved out.]
  5. Constructing ramps across the footpath for vehicles, which makes walking on the footpath difficult for older people or pushing a child-cart impossible.
  6. Not making provision for transformers inside the apartment complex but placing them in the common public space [which is then quickly converted into men's toilet.]
It maybe worthwhile to start a campaign to educate the people on these and many other violations committed by them (mostly because they do not know that they are doing this) and fix them within a specific time, before we start demanding our politicians to clean up their act.


  1. Now getting something done against law is considered as smartness. My friend is a civil engineer. He told me some of the private buildings do not have a proper septic tank. The waste directly goes to the earth. Now days nothing is considered as sin. We are becoming more selfish.

  2. As per law, each dwelling unit measuring over 750 sq. ft must have car park allotted. This is tweaked and the upper middle class park in streets. Check out Adyar streets.

    1. Oh yes, I missed that completely. How the middle class has stolen the street space by making them as parking lots is atrocious!

  3. And here is my open letter to the beloved middle class vehicle owners.

  4. It is amazing to read Justice Singhvi, granting further stay on the demolition:

    "Justice Singhvi told the AG that he too spent a disturbed night. “I slept at 11.30 p.m. and work up at 3.30 a.m.… On reading the reports in today’s morning newspapers it appears that the majority of the residents have not vacated their flats as they have not found alternative accommodations. When we passed the order on October 1, granting them time till November 11 to vacate, senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi told us that 75 per cent of the flat owners had vacated. Perhaps he was not apprised properly."

    When it comes to middle class folks, everyone will come to the rescue. At least the learned judges have not declared their property legal. Only, more time has been given for vacating the premises. It will be interesting to see what happens by the extension period...