Tuesday, July 06, 2010

City builders now fear RTI ‘blackmailers’

he dreaded extortion call from a bhai is unsettling for any construction tsar, but Mumbai’s builders are now quivering before much lesser mortals. The violations they indulge in, they gripe, are being ferreted out by a bunch of "professional complainants" with the help of the RTI Act, not to expose corruption, but to blackmail them. Builders manipulating floor space index (FSI) or carrying out gross violations in their projects find themselves more susceptible to this phenomenon. "Unscrupulous builders flouting construction regulations are easy targets and are sometimes forced to shell out a couple of crores to keep extortionists off," said an industry insider, who claimed that even those builders who tried to work within the ambit of the sanctioned plans found themselves at the receiving end. Advocate-activist Y P Singh, however, said this was "inevitable collateral". When the statutory authorities themselves are sanctioning illegal plans, naturally, all kinds of unscrupulous people will want to jump on to the bandwagon," he said. He added that sometimes tenants in redevelopment deals also dug out details of government-builder misdemeanours to get a better deal.

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