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Vivarea Koramangala, and the MSL juggle

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Urban Development

An alleged wrong estimation of the Above Mean Sea Level (AMSL) by a private builder to construct a 17-storey building, 4.5 km from the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s (HAL) defence aerodrome, has been approved by HAL that handles the airport. - - - - Responding to the allegation of having given an NOC for a wrongful estimation of the AMSL, an HAL spokesperson said: “We have given the NOC based on the elevation being surveyed by Precision Survey and checked and verified by the Ambedkar Institute. The site is marked and signed by BBMP on our zoning map also.”

For the full report in the Deccan Herald, click here.

Now, which is this Ambedkar Institute that has supposedly carried out the checks and verifications? Are they authorised for the purpose? Builders are known to use all kinds of methods to circumvent the laws of the land, some of which are admittedly outmoded. This route, if the allegation is true, is a new one, and to add 5 extra floors, right along the flight path - rather scary.

Apart from the above, what is equally worrying is the increased traffic congestion and water shortages that will result out of such developments, without the necessary infrastructure in place to support them. OK - Vivarea is done (barring the question of the extra floors). But, do we need the even bigger Mantri Mall (that is proposed along the Sarjapur road), the Maverick/ Garuda Mall (across the Games Village), apart from the Shantinagar Co-op House Building Society developments that it is already in progress on the 62 acre land around the Nirgun Mandir area, details on all of which can be accessed here?

Muralidhar Rao

PS: All in all, it reinforces the thinking that there has to be totally new and sustainable approaches to development planning. One such proposal for an SDZ (sustainable development zone) plan is discussed here.


murali772's picture

many explanations called for

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An interesting comment in the SaveKoramangala Y-group:
Using the Google Maps tool, the elevation at the site is clearly seen to be 897 metres, and is supposed to be accurate to +/- 5 metres (check the screen capture accessible here).

Besides, going by this link available from the official website of the Indian Air Force, it seems clear that HAL cannot sanction this at all and the sanctioning authority is only MoD, Delhi.

HAL, BBMP and Ambedkar institute have a lot of explaining to do.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Whistle-blower task forces

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A link to the Deccan Herald article (check opening post) was posted on the SaveKoramangala Y-group by member M1, which led to the following exchanges:

Dear M1 - Who is this Residents Infrastructure Task Force? The article gives the impression that they represent residents, though of which area is not clear. Writing to the Defence Minister with such grave accusations is not a matter to be trifled with and cannot be resorted to unless all the Koramangala residents which includes all RWA’s, save Koramangala group etc. are in favour of it. This could lead to a very long and expensive legal battle as Raheja is no fly by night group and are known to be a builder of considerable repute.

Recently, RMZ, a group with close family connections to Raheja, installed an out door gym at our park which was much applauded by our RWA.

Dear M2
Want to write to set certain facts on record and then will stay silent from that point on:

1. The Koramangala Infrastructure Task Group was originally set up to front the Sarjapur Road agitation. It has some prominent individuals from Koramangala as its members and some RWAs.

2. Yes, the allegations are exceedingly grave and serious. Unfortunately the documentation so far in evidence only goes to strengthen the allegations. The builder in question first apparently tried to manipulate the latitude and longitude of the building location to avoid the air safety zone. When BBMP pointed out to the builder that the location described by that latitude and longitude was in Bannerghatta Road and not in Koramangala, it would appear that he then resorted to apparent manipulation of the Mean Sea Level.

3. The proof of the Mean Sea Level can be ascertained in several ways:
(a) The Mean Sea Level is clearly marked on Survey of India maps
(b) Google maps has a patch which when loaded on lets you see the AMSL at any point.
(c) A download app is available on I-phone and all Android smart phones with which you can check ater flows from a higher level to a lower level this ipso facto proves the AMSL claimed is on the fthe AMSL at any point.
(d) Finally the mean sea level claimed by the builder is lower than the AMSL of Bellandur lake. Since wace of it untrue.

For (a) the proof is attached.
For (b) the proof is attached
For (c) you will have to take our word -- it has been checked and double checked with hand held devices. Any citizen is welcome to try to do the same and verify.
For (d), the very same Survey of India map shown in attachment shows the level.

What the letter asks is for Mr. Antony to investigate the issue. If Raheja is really on the up and up, when an enquiry is opened, let them prove the AMSL they stated is correct. The letter does not make allegations. It only states certain information which has come to the attention of the letter writers along with a set of documents which have all been tabled along with the letter to Mr. Antony. Every document produced from each of the 4 sources shown above all tally and all of them show the builder's AMSL to be wrong.

I do not see where the legal battle comes in. There is no appetite among anyone I know of to go down that route.

As for RMZ and its exercise equipment:
(a) RMZ is no longer a part of Rahejas
(b) Just because we get a gym does not mean we have to sell our souls and risk an air accident so that we get a couple of treadmills.
At least that is my point of view. As I have promised in the first line, the case rests and is now before the jury.

Dear M1 -  Thank you for your response and for all the details you have included. However, I am still not clear on the composition of the Kor. Infrastucture Task Group. Is this a secret or can it be shared. Who gives this group the authority to write to a cabinet minister and approach the press?

There may be great merit in the case as you have been at pains to explain and since you have done this, why not share all other info pertaining to this case. Why not circulate this letter with the signatures of all signatories and also let the RWA know how the press was involved.

It is my understanding that after one unpleasant incident when an inquiry committee had to be set up and MC member/s had to resign, and an interim committee be formed, we should extremely careful about how such matters are handled. Even at the last AGM, a point was raised on which matters could be taken up by the RWA and which should be left to the concerned individuals.

When a dispute is raised by one party, you will appreciate that this party alone is not entitled to decide whether legal action is to be taken or not. The other party is well within its rights to take this route. Should they decide to do so, you will agree that the General Body is to approve pursuing this action or otherwise.

Dear Mr M2 - I have a simple question to you, a la Arnab Goswamy - why should a person, or a group of persons, need to seek anyone's approval before lodging a complaint with concerned authority about gross violations of rules?

Dear Murali - Leaving aside your statement of “gross violations of rules”, My answer is that as long as that group of persons do not claim to represent a group of people, such as an RWA and its members, there should be no objection

Much earlier too when the project was starting, I remember accompanying people from 3rd Block to Town Planning Deptt of BBMP to get drawings and details, but I don't think much was done after getting the details. It simply went off the radar, but when Sarjapura Road issue came into the limelight, Vivaria also came into the limelight. The main concern was never to challenge the building complex as such to come up, but whether enough infrastructure back up was being provided or not. But there were also very strong views that came from Raheja Residency members questioning the safety angles, particularly since it was in the direct flight path of landing aircraft. Thereafter a lot of information was gathered from various bodies and institutions. The landing path also includes several other buildings in Koramangala. We went to BBMP and told them about our misgivings about the safety issues involved and that the Masterplan 2015 had also laid down the limits of heights of buildings within a certain radius from the HAL airport as it affected the lives of residents living all around this building, and requested them verbally to look into it. They promised to review and perhaps even sent a notice to the builders but nothing has happened on the ground.The 'CONDITIONAL' NOC given by HAL, is also a bit odd in its wording.

Well, quite a few residents of Koramangala have sold their residential properties and invested in this development, and they are obviously irked by the doings of the task force. But then, can we allow the builder-neta-babu mafia to imperil the safety of an entire community? Yes, such illegalities have been going on all across the city. But, isn't it time the citizens came together to form their own task forces to say loudly - enough is enough?

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

lessons still not clear?

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HAL revokes NOC
Residents of Koramangala, under the banner of Koramangala Infrastructure Task Force, had written to Defence Minister A K Antony urging him to take action regarding what was supposedly an illegal NOC granted by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to Raheja Builders. The Defence Minister in turn had ordered HAL to cancel the NOC.

For the full report in Citizen Matters, click here

Chief Secretary to Raheja's rescue?
In a bid to make Namma Bengaluru mirror the highrise culture of a Shanghai or Singapore, the state government is seeking the cooperation of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the operators of the city's old HAL airport, to allow builders to go vertical. Situated in the heart of Bangalore, HAL airport issues no-objection certificates (NOCs) on height limits to developments situated approximately in a 5-kilometre radius around the airport. Until 2010, the Airports Authority of India was issuing the same NOC to builders. A couple of months ago, the state chief secretary S V Ranganath sent a letter to the chairman of HAL, R K Tyagi (apparently, the same person involved in the helicopter scam), seeking the defence establishment's help to increase the radar height at HAL airport, which would in turn facilitate taller buildings to come up in the central business district areas of the city.

In the letter, a copy of which is with TOI, Ranganath, said, "There has been considerable demand for permitting construction of highrise and multi-storied buildings in the vicinity of HAL Airport...If the height of the existing radar is increased by about 1.5 meters, the signal clearance of the radar will improve considerably while facilitating construction of multi-storied buildings using the permissible FSI to the optimum."

As per estimates by real estate industry body Credai, if the radar height is increased by 1.5 meters, developments in the CBD could enjoy an additional height of upto 75 meters or 25 floors. Typically, one floor equals three meters.

For the full report in the ToI, click here

Following excerpts from reader, Maj Kapur (regular on PRAJA), says all that is required to be said about it:
Oh NO Mr. Ranganath!! How could you do it, and that too towards the end of your career? This is a terrible request that you have made to HAL. No matter how high a demand the builders might make, no matter what price they are prepared to pay, you can not barter away the safety, lives and lifestyles of the citizens of Bangalore, particularly those living in the vicinity of HAL airport just because it suits a particular lobby. CREDAI has made the demand for its commercial interests - any one can see that. But coming at a time when there is a pending dispute in the High Court where a builder from Mumbai is alleged to be involved for having undertaken building an apartment complex way beyond the safety limits laid down by HAL, the timing appears odd.

Demolition inevitable?
HAL’s counsellor’s calculation stated that Chalet Hotel must not proceed above 13th floor which is equal to 40 metres. It effectively means that the extra floors constructed will have to be demolished.

For the full report in Citizen Matters, click here

Though it is sad, particularly since many citizens have booked their flats in these floors too, apparently nobody is bothering to learn other than the hard way.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

saving grace

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A Mumbai-based developer is returning money to his customers, besides an interest of 13% per annum, after his upscale housing project in Koramangala failed to pass the height test of HAL, leading to inordinate delay. The project, Raheja Vivarea, falling within 5-km distance of HAL airport, hit the “air pocket” when authorities found that the builder had allegedly fudged the building height and HAL cancelled its sanctions. The project has been halted for the last five years and nearly 200 buyers are in a limbo as the litigation seems to be going nowhere. Left with no option, some 50 buyers have cancelled their bookings, withdrew their monies and the builder, who is already in the firing line, is offering 13% interest annually from the date of payment.

For the full text of the report in the Bangalore Mirror, click here.

Well, whatever, it needs to be appreciated that the builder has offered to refund money paid, and with interest, compared to the many others who have just thrown up their hands, or even vanished, leaving the investors in the lurch.

Many lessons here for both developers as well as investors. One wonders if they 'll ever be learned.

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