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drprashant

How We Used RTI Against Unauthorised Construction

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drprashant

I would like to share this story to highlight the power of RTI

 

Around August 2003, a Co-operative Housing Society in Tilak Nagar, Mumbai decided to demolish their old building and develop their plot to take benefit of MHADA’s (Maharashtra Housing And Area Development Board) sanctioning of additional FSI by reconstructing the building to rehabilitate the original 36 members of the Society in Wing A and constructing Wing ‘B’ as a saleable component. The Society granted the right of development in favour of Paradise Developers (name changed to protect identity).

 

Accordingly Wing ‘A’ of the building was reconstructed on the site of the old building. Wing ‘B’ was constructed and the flats were sold to purchasers during the construction in and around year 2006 by the developer. The flat owners took possession of their respective flats around December 2006 at the insistence of the developer after paying full consideration and advance maintenance charges for one year.

 

The developer whilst giving possession of the said flats in the B wing took signatures of the flat owners on a plan which he claimed was sanctioned by BMC (Mumbai (Bombay) Municipal Corporation), which was for separate wing attached to the B Wing (as C Wing) having seven stories and a huge shop which he claimed was a community hall (as D Wing). None of the flat purchasers were given any information about the details of this proposed construction by the developer or the Society.

From the time the residents took possession of their flats they were facing various problems like lack of open space, unclean surrounding, frequent breakdown of lift, irregular water supply, leakages, improper entrance, rat menace, etc. Neither the developer nor the Society took any cognizance to their complaints in this regard. Therefore, the flat owners had a meeting on December 15, 2007 to discuss and find out solutions. Thereafter letters were handed over to the developer addressing all their grievances. At the time of handing over the letters, the builder assured that all the construction carried out by him was as per plans approved by BMC.

However, since the construction of ‘C’ and ’D’ Wings attached to the building and other construction activities prima-facie created doubts in the minds of the flat owners about its legality. In one of the meetings the Chairperson of the Society informed that the Society has never signed on any documents nor submitted any proposal to the BMC for construction of the C and D wings. Therefore under the Right to Information Act, 2005, the flat owners requested for the copies of the documents with respect to the construction from BMC.

The flat owners were shocked to learn from the documents made available to them by BMC under RTI Act that the six storied building and two huge shops being constructed attached to their wing is totally illegal and unauthorized! More shocking was the revelation that the part of the building was constructed on a piece of land which is an NDR (No Development Rights) plot adjacent to the Society’s plot. There was no document on record of BMC to prove the ownership of this plot and no plans what so ever were submitted to the BMC for construction!!

When these facts were pointed out to the BMC officials they issued a Stop Work notice and registered an FIR under MRTP Act against the Chairman and the Secretary of the Society in March 08 (the charge sheet is not filed as on 19-8-08)

On further scrutiny of documents, to the shock and surprise of the flat owners it was noticed that although the plans were submitted for constructing 7th floor in B wing no commencement certificate was granted by the BMC to construct the same. Also there were no plans or any document what so ever on records of BMC regarding the construction of C and D wings.

It was also noticed that a copy of forged and fabricated plan allegedly approving the construction of the 7th floor was knowingly, intentionally and deliberately made available by the developer to the purchasers of the flats on the 7th floor to submit the same with the proposal for obtaining financial assistance from the Banks. The office bearers of the Society connived with developer and issued No Objection Certificates for the same leaving the flat owners clueless about the 7th floor being unauthorised.

 

On receipt of these and other papers from the office of the Building Proposal Department of the BMC under Right to Information Act 2005, the flat owners of the B Wing filed a Writ Petition before the Hon’ble Division Bench of the Bombay High Court of Bombay against the Developer, Society, BMC and MHADA.

 

Flat owners had also filed an application under RTI Act seeking information from MHADA. On inspections of the documents more irregularities were observed which had to be brought to the notice of the Hon’ble High court by filing amendment to the Writ petition filed earlier.

 

In March, 2008, the

Hon’ble Court
was pleased to direct the Municipal Corporation to examine whether any buildings, as alleged in the Petition, have been constructed unauthorizedly and if so, to inform the Court about the steps taken by the Municipal Corporation in connection therewith. At the hearing on June, 2008, the Respondent Corporation through its counsel informed this
Hon’ble Court
that the construction of Wings “C” and “D” of the building on the subject plot was unauthorized. The Hon’ble Court by its directed the Municipal Corporation to place on record as to whether the unauthorized construction was demolished by the Municipal Corporation.

In April, 2008, the BMC demolished brick masonry work of Wings “C” (seven storied unauthorised wing of building) and two unauthorized ground floors shops. The R.C.C. work of the two wings could not, however, be demolished manually.

The battle is still on. However, the success we got so far was only because of the ammunition provided by RTI!!

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Dr.R.K.D.Goel

20.09.2008

This is a very good information. Not in Mumbai this type of unauthorised constructions are going on in each city. In Vadodara most of the buildings are unauthorused. In 2000 the UD & UH Deptt of Gujarat Government passed an after the Hon.Gujarat High court orders to seal all the buildings those are not having the Occupancy Certificate (BU) from the Municipal Corporations of Gujarat state. The Act came in force from 20.11.2000 for those buildings having vuilations upto 20.11.2000 and should be regularised unauthorised buildings with some coditions after paying impect fee.

Till date the illegal constructions are going on in Vadodara with the conivance of Vadodara Municipal Corporation officers. The buildings of housing societies are rebuilt with pot the permission from the registered Co-Operative Housing Societies. In several cases the Housing Societies have refused to give No-Objection certificate to reconstruction of houses. But the builders lobby of the Vadodara are so strong that no action are taken against the Vadodara Municipal Corporation corrupt officers and elected wing.

If some one ask the building plan from the VMC of unauthorised buildings under the RTI Act 2005, either the information are not provided and if given always incomplete.

Not only this the RTI Act 2005 activist got threats for their life.

 

I FEEL THIS IS A GOOD NEWES GIVEN BY THE RTI INDIA ORGANISATION TO BOOST THE MORAL OF THE PERSONS SEEKING THE INFORMATIONS FROM THE MUNICIPAL CORPORATIONS OF ILLEGAL BUILDINGS. THE RTI Act 05 ACTIVISTS SHOULD USE THIS INFORMATION AND SHOULD FILE CASES IN THE Hon"ble HIGH COURTS.

Dr.R.K.D.Goel VADODARA.

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drprashant

Dear Sir,

 

When we first approached BMC with the details of unauthorised construction, they asked us why we (the purchasers) did not approach the authorities before purchasing the flats to see if everything is as per the law. We all know that this suggestion is impractical and was made just to avoid the responsibility of the officers. Even with the power of RTI it is almost impossible to know the correct information at the most appropriate time. For eg. it is impossible to wait for a month to get an approved plan (which is subject to amendments) when you are buying property in a town where the praises are fluctuating (mostly upwards) everyday.

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Sunil Ahya

Congrats Dr.Prashant,

 

Can you pls tell me when exactly (the date) did you file the writ petiton and when did you get the judgment/ or structure demolished.

 

The time period.

 

I have a similar case where it can be mathematically proven that the structure is illegal.

 

Thanks so much for sharing your success story.

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sidmis

Dear Dr. Prashant,

 

It's an inspiring report and worth emulating at other cities too. Hat's off to your painstaking efforts.

 

It would be better if you can upload some sample RTI Applications which can be used by other forum users in their respective cities.

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Dr.R.K.D.Goel

Dear Prashant,

Will you please give us the case number and the High Court where you file the case.

We may find the full judgement from the website of the High Court, if you provide us the case number and year and the type of case i.e it is SCA / CA / MCA etc No. / year.

Thanks

Dr.R.K.D.Goel Vadodara

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taurus

I feel that the time taken is comparatively less. It is a very inspiring account. Congrats and best wishes for more success.

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drprashant

Dear Sidmis,

 

I will surely upload the RTI applications which we had submitted as you suggested. However, is it OK if they are real / original with real names? or they should have fictitious identiteis?

 

Dear Dr. R. K. D. Goyal,

 

The case is a bit complected. It has many dimensions. Writ petition filed in the High Court is one of the many simultaneous efforts we took to tackle tih case. I mus say that the success was possible because of the tremendous amount of unity and courage exhibited by all 38 members and their families. On one occasion we had to sit on hunger strike for 3 days outside our building entrance. That gave us sense of strength and support from all members as well as encouragement from entire colony.

 

We had to fight on many fronts and filed cases including a Criminal Complaint in a Metropolitan Magistrate's Court.

 

We had to follow up with BMC officers to make them understand that we wont keep quit unless action is taken.

 

The writ petition no is WP/474 of 2008, Bombay High Court.

 

Dear Abhi987,

 

I do not know if I can give details on this forum. If you want I can mail the info on your personal email.

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sidmis

Plz upload the Queries part only.

No need to provide Personal and Identifiable portion.

That will serve no practical purpose.

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Sunil Ahya

Dr.Prashant,

 

I would like to message you privately my e-mail address. I tried to private message you, but I got an error saying you have chosen not to receive private messages.

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taurus

The commitment and resolve of all the families is simply appalling. I salute the valiant warriors for justice.

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abhijeet

Dear members,

Exactly before one year i.e on 22/09/2007 I had posted one message

on almost same issue, but Success of RTI activity nullified by the Minister . Dr Prashant is requested to go through that thread ( Success stories) . But we could not do anything positive due to the absence of proper spirit amongst the members of this very big Co operative Housing Society, with 612 members. Due to the widespread corruption and corrupt managing committee are always receiving administrative support even from the top of the Cooperation Department. It was clear from the news as reported in The Statesman (21/09/2007). Two court cases are pending years after years . It is useless to mention how influential corrupt persons with the help of administration can manupulate . Still I should mention here that now the fighting spirit of a few dedicated members is decreasing day by day for two reasons (1) Long 25 years of different court cases (2) Death of some 30 active members with inclusion of many new (illegally ) so called members in this Society.

Dr prashant ,I should appreciate that you people could make it . I do like only to mention a line from our great poet " amar anahato amar anagato , tomaro binatare bajiche tara " --- which goes like--The melody which I could not compose, you are successful to make it. Thank you all. With regards- abhijeet

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drprashant

And We Landed in Thana Central Jail for 7 Days!!

 

Read The Letter My Wife Wrote to the CM of Maharashtra

 

Dear All

I have sent flwg email to the cm. Long live 29 B Wing and long live our fighters

 

Sophia

 

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Shri Ashok Chavan

 

Hon'ble Chief Minister of Maharashtra

 

Mumbai

 

(29th January 2009)

 

Respected Sir,

 

When you took the oath of the Chief Minister of Maharashtra you gave us a very tall promise of fighting terrorism and seeing to it that every Mumbaikar feels safe in Mumbai. Today the predicament the residents of our building faced was worse than terrorism i.e. on Thursday , four well-qualified, working professionals (including my husband Dr Sawant) were arrested on a false FIR lodged by one Mrs. Poonam Jaikar who’s credibility is questionable (the daughter of a NCP Activist Mrs. Kumud Jaikar) agaisnt the said four professionals and other four residents including myself with the help of a well known politician who without hearing the other side decided on the fate of these four residents just because the person complaining to him was a member of his party. The said four professionals were two days in police lock-up and four days in jail of a matter which was civil in nature for which we have got orders from the city civil court and the high court in our favour. Sir, whenenver we residents went and complained agains the said persons (one incident where she poured kerosene in front of all residents with her mother insitgating her -but no police action) the police everytime knowing her connection told us that our complaints were civil in nature and not criminal. There must have been pressure on the police but they could have investigated the matter in a proper judicious way but once there are orders then even a person who has not committed a crime becomes a criminal.

 

We strongly feel that the common man everytime make a mistake of voting, with the belief of getting good governance in the process of democracy which we beilive in. We are planning a signature campaign of all professionals which includes doctors, ca, lawyers who have all come forward to help us and the others to get justice and hopefully we will get justice because till now the only justice the common man gets are from the courts of this country.

 

Sir we were highly impressed by what you said but our faith in the system is diminishing day by day.

 

Lastly I would advise all Mumbaikars that if they have any problems they should approach the politicians as they are the ones who can decided your fate and then turn your life upside down as the latest trend is the politician is turning into a don and the police terrorist (under political pressure)

 

Sir, we know that we will not get any response from you but we were informed that you look into the grievances of the common man and give them justice. Sir if you give us an appointment for five minutes we can explain our case to you.

 

Sophia Sawant

xxxxxxxxxx

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vdrashmi

I salute this courage and dedication for fighting against such a crooked and shameful system.

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Dr.R.K.D.Goel

A great achiements. Go on fighting. You know how many years we fight for getting the Freedom. Our present politicians are worst than the Britishers.

 

90 percent politicians are becoming goons. Where we will survive? Only when we get combined than only we can get some success otherwise single handedly one has to die for getting justice from our present breed of politicians of all party. We have some hope in our judiciary now which is costly and time comsuming. We should continue our fight at all level till we get justice.

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jps50

Dr. Prashant,

Hats off to you and your team. I quote

 

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change a nation; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." -Dr. Margaret Mead

 

“The real swaraj will come not by the acquisition of authority by a few, but by the acquisition of capacity by all to resist authority when abused.” Mahatma Gandhi.

 

"First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win." ------ M.K.GANDHI

 

All the best and good luck.

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jps50

Dr. Prashant,

I suggest to invove print and electronic media in your fight. Politicians wake up, when media cries. They do not listen to common Indians.

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drprashant
Dr. Prashant,

I suggest to invove print and electronic media in your fight. Politicians wake up, when media cries. They do not listen to common Indians.

 

JPS50 Sir,

We tried to involve the press and the media earlier in our fight, however they were not interested to carry our news except an article that appeared in DNA.

Blank Read

Derineh Cooper

Saturday, November 22, 2008

DNA: Mumbai: Breaking political barriers

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sunaabhsarkar

It is very heartening to know how you have managed to bring the matters to light about the functioning of unscrupulous elements in connivance with govt officials. I've been fighting a lone long battle on same grounds with the Greater Noida Development Authorities on similar lines. Unlike in your case, where the BMC provided you with all the necessary information, in my case, though its almost two years now and even thought the Hon'ble UPSIC has awarded punishment amounting to 25,000/- to the PIO GNIDA, GNIDA is refusing both refusing to own up that its official are in connivance with unscrupulous builders and developers and also avoiding providing information about them. A paltry some of Rs 25,000/ is not even peanuts to the guys who have been punished because they are sitting on a Gold mine minting gold by the second. So much have the laws been flouted that, in GNIDA, one can start building [ and also build any thing he wishes] with out even waiting for a formal approval from the Authority. So much so that in one of their uncertified reply to my query, the PIO had the Audacity to mention that Building Bye Laws are for the sake of formality and they need not be followed in Greater Noida.Though thoroughly frustrated, I'm still following my case. One of these days when I get a final judgement from the UPSIC, I'll share all the documents in this regard with this forum. Good Job!!!

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drprashant

Dear sunaabhsarkar,

 

I can understand your frustration. Unfortunately the story is same every where. However it is the people like you who are fighting for the justice, the system has not collapsed completely. If you and the like minded people give up the fight the system will collapse immediately and permanently. So fight it out till the logical end.

 

Please upload the order and the relevant info of your case for the benefit of the readers.

 

All the best!

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sunaabhsarkar

Dear Drprashant,

 

thanx for those words of encouragement. These are the kind of fuel cells I need in my war. BTW here is the link to a post where I've uploaded the order. It contains both the Hindi pdf attachment as well as the near vebatim English translation. http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/7451-success-hmmm.html#post44935 Hope its of help to others.

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jps50

Is it possible to take assistance of national level NGOs concentrating on consumer protection? I have posted useful websites on consumer protection in my blog [jps50] at http://www.bighelpers.org.

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drprashant
Unlike in your case, where the BMC provided you with all the necessary information, in my case, though its almost two years now and even thought the Hon'ble UPSIC has awarded punishment amounting to 25,000/- to the PIO GNIDA, GNIDA is refusing both refusing to own up that its official are in connivance with unscrupulous builders and developers and also avoiding providing information about them.

 

Dear sunaabhsarkar,

 

The BMC officers were never willing to part with the information. We had to trap them by using some tactics, which left them with no option but to give us the required info.

We used info from MHADA aginst BMC and vise-a-verse to trap them. We also got entire file of our case under RTI paying thousands of rupees ensuring that they do not manipulate or add any document. (We also had unofficial version of the file pocured beforehand)

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sunaabhsarkar

Dear Drprashant,

I can understand how difficult it is... It was only after my clients had duped me of my fees etc and I had to apporach the Authorities at GNIDA for relevant information and documents so that I could take them to court, when I came to know of the games played at GNIDA and the vicious circle.

 

I was dicouraged by my friends and colleagues that I was inviting the wrath of the Mafia and all... But all that could not subdue me and I wanted the lid off the can of worms... only I don't have the money to handle it the big way you have done. what ever has been done is what I could do from resources I had and what ever I had to borrow for the purpose. After all those evidence hunting stints and driving up and down the lonely greater noida express way, with a fear in the heart that a mishap is just waiting to happen, today when I go out and in the middle of the traffic I see a man staring at me or a person approach my vehicle, I have shivers down my spine in anticipation for the worst. Not that nothing has heppend. On one occassion I was asaulted by a group of people on a flimsy ground in broad daylight in a market place. They managed to flee seeing people gathering, but I had nothing with me to prove that they awere connected to the case. Today when my children are late from school, I can do little but quitely keep my fingers crossed hopeing that its not the worst of my fears.

Worries and fears...Perhaps the very reason that got me critically ill some time ago...

may be I'm physically low at the moment, but I intend to see this thing through to its logical end. Wish me luck!!!

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drprashant
Today when my children are late from school, I can do little but quitely keep my fingers crossed hopeing that its not the worst of my fears.

Worries and fears...Perhaps the very reason that got me critically ill some time ago...

may be I'm physically low at the moment, but I intend to see this thing through to its logical end. Wish me luck!!!

 

Dear sunaabhsarkar,

I understand the fear and the trauma you must be going through.

We are not moneyed people either. We have support of almost all the residents in our building wing. However when it comes to spending real cash it is very difficult to collect it even when people promise to pay and admit that it is their morale duty to do so.

 

Four of us spent one week in Jail and have to spend around 2.5 lacks to secure bail for us and anticipatory bail for the other four. The money is yet to be collected from rest of the people for who's cause we are fighting.

 

While granting anticipatory bail, the Hon'ble Judge has observed that the case was falsely registered against us. I will get the copy of the order today which I will upload for the benefit of readers.

 

All the best for your fight! Remember the real strength lies in ones mind and not in his muscles!

 

Regards

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