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Mukesh Ambani's parking troubles

 

ADITI PRASAD | New Delhi, April 11, 2012 17:31
Tags : mukesh ambani | mukesh ambani antilla | land encroachment |
 

Aditi PrasadMoney can't buy you everything it seems as billionaire industrialist Mukesh Ambani must be discovering much to his chagrin. Despite living in what has been described as the most expensive home in the world – yes, I am referring to his opulent 27 storey residence 'Antilla' in South Mumbai – Mr. Ambani apparently has still to do the rounds of dingy sarkari offices in the crowded city to defend his multi-million dollar home which has been accused of encroaching on municipal corporation land.

Earlier this week, the opposition in Maharashtra brought up the matter in the assembly and alleged that illegal constructions like protection walls and stairs had taken place, apart from misuse of the land for parking space by the industrialist. As a direct fallout, the Maharashtra government has ordered a secretary level enquiry to ascertain whether there is indeed any unauthorised construction in the land adjoining Antilla.

On the face of it, the problem is quite simple. While overseeing the construction of his humble abode, the elder Ambani sibling extended the compound wall of Antilla over the area that was handed over to the municipal corporation for road widening. Apparently Ambani even convinced the Civic Commissioner who gave the said area to Antilla on a reported annual lease of Rs. 4.5 lakh. The condition was that Ambani would return the land if and when the municipal corporation took a decision to widen the road.

Had it ended there all would have been well. But matters took a turn for the worse when documents sourced by an RTI activist found that Antilla had handed over 309 square metres of land to the Mumbai civic body for road widening in May 2010, but that the land in question has unauthorised construction.

Excuse me, but are we not overreacting a little just because the alleged flouter of norms happens to be one of the richest men in the world? I mean what's the hullabaloo about given that encroachment in the city is about as common as the Mumbai locals, if not more. Even if true, Mukesh Ambani's Antilla must be encroaching on a pitiable fraction of a land mass in Mumbai compared to the 2.15 lakh encroachments on government land across the city. Incidentally, most of the encroachments are in the form of slums or commercial establishments and have the blessings of local politicians.

antilla

Take for instance Dharavi road. According to the development plan (1991) the road was originally intended to be 90-feet-wide. But with over 600 commercial establishments dotting the road on both sides, the road's width is reportedly just 40 to 50 feet today. The civic authorities now want to broaden the motorway but they will have to take care of rehabilitating all commercial establishments before beginning the work.

The list of roads in Mumbai suffering from similar massive encroachments is endless. Media reports indicate that in the 2012 fiscal alone, BMC has had to eliminate 30% of roads which were originally marked for repairs because of encroachment and construction issues, causing massive losses to the exchequer.

But strangely, instead of discussing rampant encroachment across Mumbai in the state assembly, our leaders decided that unauthorised parking by Mukesh Ambani's guests at the Antilla deserved more serious attention.

Not that I am passing judgement. Leaders may discuss whatever keeps them in the media glare in the assembly, as long as they are not watching porn in the back benches.

But Mukesh Ambani would not be thinking as leniently. After all, must be tough for the 19th richest person in the world, and the second richest man in Asia to be losing sleep over the ruckus in his own backyard, literally.
 

 
(Disclaimer: The views expressed in the blog are that of the author and does not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of The Sunday Indian)
 
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017