A NEWS REPORT:
The finding by BMTF, which was asked to conduct a probe by HC, also reveals that civic officials had approved changed plans with overestimated road widths
Futuristic planning was taken – literally – to great heights by a set of top officials to favour two top builders of the country.
The Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force (BMTF) which was asked by the High Court of Karnataka to look into the violations, if any, in the construction of high-rise buildings in Hulimavu-Begur area off Bannerghatta Road, has concluded that officials of Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) gave a carte blanche to builders to flout Floor Area Ratio (FAR). The report, which was prepared on October 29 and submitted to the court on Thursday, specifically states that BDA commissioner T Sham Bhatt ”has admitted that the process followed was illegal”.
Plans had been sanctioned for the high-end residential buildings by considering not the actual road widths, but what was projected in the Masterplan. Simply put, a narrow road was shown as a broad one to obtain a higher FAR to allow two builders – DLF and House of Hiranandani — to go beyond the permissible vertical limit.
The site inspection by officials of BMTF showed that the Hulimavu-Begur road had been projected as 18 metres wide in the Masterplan from Begur to Thyappa Garden and as 12 metres wide from Vishweshwaraiah Layout to Hulimavu entrance on Bannerghatta road. But the actual width was much lesser than that, which would not have allowed high-rise construction as per the rules.
The result: Westend Heights of DLF and Queensgate of House of Hiranandani are fully occupied with a total of 2,820 flats adjoining a road less than 10 metres wide.
The BMTF report has point-by-point explained the alleged collusion and also attached the recorded statements of BBMP and BDA officials.
According to the report submitted to the government advocate by BMTF ADGP T Suneel Kumar on Thursday, the officials have violated rules and issued building plan sanctions; remodified plans by altering the parks and civic amenities sites; and bungled the Floor Area Ratio.
The petitioner, Anil Agarwal, had contended that the builders could only construct four floors as per the available FAR when the road width was just 9.6 metres.
But anticipating approval and the projection made in the Masterplan, civic officials allowed the builders to construct up to 25-plus floors.
The case had come to light in 2012 when BMTF registered an FIR against seven officials and the two builders (Annabel Constructions and Developers Private Limited of DLF Southern Homes, and Saudela Constructions of Hiranandani) for approving the projects.
Senior IAS officers Bharat Lal Meena, KM Shivakumar, Pradeep Singh Kharola, then the BDA commissioner, town planning joint director, chief engineer (major roads) and others were mentioned in the FIR.
However, the high court quashed the FIR, and in October first week directed BMTF to inquire into the case by conducting an inspection to ascertain the ground realities of the constructions.
The court also ordered status quo on the project and directed the builders not to sell any flats until further orders.
THE BMTF’S FINDINGS
* The BDA has issued modified plan as per the realignment by altering parks and civic amenities sites. This has been done in clear violation of the provisions to favour the builders. The FAR has to be allowed as per the existing road width on the side and not based on the proposed road widening as shown in the Masterplan. This has been accepted by the present BDA commissioner T Sham Bhatt.
* How the road width has been considered while sanctioning different developmental plans from the initial 10.5 metres to 12.1 metres and then 18.2 metres so as to allow more FAR needs to be investigated thoroughly.
HOW THE BUNGLING HAPPENED TO HELP THE BUILDERS
ANNABEL CONSTRUCTIONS (DLF SOUTHERN HOMES)
* BBMP approved a plan in August 2009 for ground+four floors. The road width was considered 10.5 metres with FAR up to 2.
* BDA approved a modified developmental plan for constructing a basement and ground+19 floors in January 2010. The road width considered is 12.10 metres with FAR of 2.244.
* In March 2011, BDA approved a re-modified developmental plan for construction of basement, ground+19 floors in seven blocks. Based on this, BBMP issued the third revised modified plan in April 2011 and the road width considered as 12.1 metres to 18 meters with FAR of 2.247.
* Based on the application, BBMP approved a resolution to declare Hulimavu-Begur road as an arterial road. The builder came forward to bear the cost of widening the road from 18 metres to 24 metres for a length of 0.85 kilometres. It was approved and tenders invited. The approval of the road widening by DLF is based on the government order.
SAUDELA CONSTRUCTIONS (HIRANANDANI)
* BDA in May 2010 approved a developmental plan for constructing six blocks of 27 floors and the road width was considered as 12.20 metres and FAR of 2.248 was fixed. Based on this, the BBMP sanctioned a plan for constructing two blocks.
* BDA in September 2011 issued a modified developmental plan and the road width considered was 18-24 metres with FAR of 2,495.
* BDA again issued remodified developmental plan on June 2015.
We are glad that we investigated the project and advised our client not to proceed with it, inspite of the discovery and the evidence of illegalities and irregularities, the builders cheated our client by forfeiting Rs.1,00,000/- .
We are contemplating to initiate criminal proceedings against the builder for the illegalities and irregularities and civil suit to recover the illegally forfeited amount.