The Right to Information has nailed gross violation of change of use and FSI rules at Sector 19, Vashi where more than 250 warehousing plots are being used for commercial purpose. After our Correspondent Rajeev Mishra applied information from NMMC under the RTI, the corporation sent show cause notices to the violators. The case reinstates the much talked about and less exercised power of the Right to Information Act. In the month of January, NMTV applied for information of plots on Sector 19C and 19E under the Right to Information Act and a month later the notices sent in the same regards to nearly 250 plots in these sectors spell doom for the illegally flourishing commercial businesses here. All the showrooms here are laughing at the change of use and FSI rules of CIDCO and NMMC much to the purposeful ignorance of both the government institutions. The replies that NMMC sent NMTV, not only was shocking beyond expectations not only for us but even senior NMMC officials. On paper all these plots are still reserved for warehouse of APMC but they have been converted into furniture showrooms, hotels, automobile showroom. It is indeed a believe it or not, for nearly 250 such plots have been converted into commercial purpose without a single permission from NMMC or CIDCO. None of the plots have procured the “Change of Use” permission from NMMC. But despite this, be it Amol Hotel, Furniture Mall, Wonder Wood, Essenza, Sony World or the Hero Honda showrooms, all are operating for over 5 years now definitely and the case stinks of the massive corruption prevailing in NMMC. Had it not been for the RTI filed by NMTV that brought the violations to the notice of responsible senior officials of NMMC, it would have been business forever for these commercial units and a few NMMC officials. However, with a month’s time given to all the commercial notices to reply to the show cause notice, there isn’t any doubt that the latter will knock the door of the courts for relief. The murkier point in the RTI expose is that not only have these plots not acquired the “Change of Use” permission but they have violated FSI norms in every way possible. Take a look at how corruption has made NMMC the alleged facilitators of acts that laugh in the face of every individual dutifully abiding by all CIDCO and NMMC rules. Hotel Amol on plot no. 17 at Sector 19C has permission to erect a structure of ground + 1 floor but the owner has a ground + three floors structure operating for more than 5 years. Adjacent to Amol Hotel, stands Essenza on a 458 square meters plot that officially has the permission of only constructing on 1900 cubic meter space but the owner has utilizing 3500 cubic meter space. Now take a look at how conveniently violations have been done on plots in sector 19E reserved for service industry. All the plots here too have been converted into 100% commercial units. All the plots can avail a FSI of .5 but are availing a FSI of 1.5. It simply means that the constructions should have had only ground + 1 floor but each showroom has two floors. The Hero Honda showroom can construct only 2000 sq. feet extra space but have actually constructed nearly 5000 square feet extra space for individual commercial profits. And the biggest mockery and violation of rules is being done by Wonder Wood and Furniture Mall that has permission for only ground floors but is operating in buildings with G+2 floors. And all these violations have been endorsed by the records of NMMC itself. Such grave violations could have never been brought to book had it not been for the RTI filed by us that compelled NMMC to take action may against their own will. What else can explain them sitting as mute spectators to these violations for so many years. The question is, why are NMMC notices speaking only about the Change of Use and not FSI violations. The former account for a civil case and FSI violations accounts for criminal cases against the violators. Are there still officials in NMMC working for leaving loopholes for the violators to get away easily? If this happens it will be a mockery of every citizen who has dutifully followed and abided all CIDCO and NMMC norms in the city. Our Correspondent Rajeev Mishra met DMC Encroachment Mahavir Pendhari. Mahavir Pendhari, who has recently taken over the NMMC Encroachment Dept. has won the faith of residents by actively taking action against violators, reinstating the faith of dutiful citizens in NMMC functioning. Speaking about the violations, at Sector 19 C and 19 E, he said that BYTE There is no doubt that the sector 19 expose is all victory of the Right to Information Act. It is indeed the most powerful tool in the hands of the common man to expose the massive corruption in NMMC and make them accountable as public servants.