BBMP Council witnesses heated debate on the issue

Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) officials on Friday were at the receiving end of councillors’ ire for allowing a high-rise building to come up opposite Raj Bhavan, a high security zone. They also charged the officials with allowing occupation when the civic body is yet to issue the Occupancy Certificate.

Following a heated debate, Mayor B.S. Sathyanarayana directed the officials to issue notices to the occupants of the Prestige Khoday Tower asking them to vacate the premises immediately.

The issue was raised by the former Mayor D. Venkatesh Murthy who wanted to know how the Prestige Khoday Tower was allowed to come up as Governor H.R. Bhardwaj and retired High Court judge M.F. Saldanha had expressed concerns over the building when it was still in the construction stage.

“How did the BBMP officials give approval to the building plan, ignoring the concerns of the Governor? The builder, who has been given Completion Certificate, has now applied for Occupancy Certificate,” he said.

Kacharakanahalli councillor Padmanabha Reddy said that the property ownership is under dispute and that it was owned by a Pakistani resident.

Chowde Gowda, a senior official from the Town Planning Department, said that the Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) was examining the ownership documents, while the Legal Cell was looking into all the files pertaining to the property in the high security zone.

The councillors, who were not satisfied with his response, wanted to know why the ownership documents were not verified before construction was allowed.

Commissioner M. Lakshminarayan said, “As it is a property once owned by an evacuee (an Indian who is now a Pakistani resident), we have to first ascertain if procedures have been followed during sale. There are no floor area ratio (FAR) violations and the file came to me at a stage when Occupancy Certificate is being sought.”

He said that after the Governor wrote expressing concern, the BBMP had written to the Police Commissioner to clarify. “This was around two years ago. We are yet to receive a response from the police. I have directed the officials to send a reminder,” he added.

Builder refutes allegations

Refuting allegations levelled by councillors in the BBMP Council on Friday, Irfan Razack, Chairman and Managing Director of Prestige Group, said that the building was constructed and developed with proper clearances.

He told The Hindu that there was no dispute in the ownership of the property. “The property was originally owned by Humayun Mirza, which was passed on to his daughter after his death. Before she moved to Pakistan, she sold the property to Khoday Eshwarappa and Sons. Around six years ago, Prestige Group entered into a joint development agreement with the Khodays,” he said.

Reiterating that there were no violations, he said that the BBMP has issued Completion Certificate. He added that Prestige Group had applied for Occupancy Certificate now. He also said that the BBMP had sought legal opinion from the former Advocate-General Ashok Haranahalli and he has stated that Occupancy Certificate could be issued. “Prestige has ensured that the building is not occupied, as the BBMP is yet to issue the Occupancy Certificate,” he said.

More In: Bengaluru