Friday, 13 January 2017

Raheja's Horizon Green Building in Deep Trouble due to Unauthorized Soak Pit

Mumbai, 13th January, 2017: K Raheja Constructions got away with lots of violations in their Horizon Green project in Borivali East. They succeeded in procuring Drainage Completion Certificate (DCC) and Occupation Certificate (OC) in early 2015 without actually constructing drainage. To hoodwink potential flat-buyers and early-bird occupants, the Rahejas tried to secretly dig a soak-pit in December 2015. The plan was to cover up the lack of a sewage connection by channeling the sludge into a soak pit and pumping it out every month. But this plan backfired when residents of the neighbouring building alerted BMC, who slapped a stop-work notice. But the Rahejas defied the stop work orders, continued the work and completed the soak-pit. So MCGM lodged a police complaint and got an FIR registered against the Rahejas.

Illegal soak pit of Horizon Green building under construction in December 2015

  • Click here for PHOTOS of Horizon Green’s soak pit.
  • Click here for PHOTOS of work in progress, defying stop work notice.
  • Click here for VIDEO of Horizon Green’s soak pit being dug late at night.
MCGM's Stop Work Notice.

Drainage is Horizon Green’s Achilles' heel, because of the building's awkward location on a slope. This project is basically built by over-exploiting the FSI of the existing “Raheja Green” layout plan, and because of this, the building suffers from major shortcomings, including lack of recreation ground, shortage of sufficient parking and mandatory open spaces, and, last but not least, huge hurdles in drainage disposal. Between 2006 and 2015, many mutually-contradictory drainage plans proposed by Rahejas were approved by BMC officials without verifying whether the hilly terrain and existing drainage lines supported these plans. The sewage directions drastically changed no less than five times. In 2010, 2012 and 2015, the Rahejas planned three different uphill routes for drainage and the BMC officials blindly nodded!

The Rahejas claim that DCC issued in Feb 2015 was for joining the sewage into common drainage of the private layout downhill as against a proposal for flowing the drainage directly uphill and out of the layout, submitted in 2012.

The drainage lines finally laid in December 2015 went uphill to the adjoining DP road (shown below), and joined a municipal sewer outside the neighbouring TCS office building. But this sewage connection (which is not shown in any proposed or approved plan) isn't working because of improper gradient.

The site on the DP road where Horizon Green's drainage was connected to municipal sewage. Improper gradient prevents Horizon Green's water and sludge from flowing into the municipal sewer.
So the Rahejas built a soak-pit to disguise Horizon Green’s lack of proper sewage, in order to sell the flats to unwary buyers.

Although the cover-up failed and the scam is out in the open, a few buyers have already become bakras. They are angry and may soon look for legal remedies against the builder. Indeed, the newly enacted Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) may prove to be the most appropriate forum for challenging Horizon Green’s fraudulently-acquired Occupation Certificate and seeking compensation.

Krishnaraj Rao

Also read: FIR filed against K Raheja builder: Horizon Green Borivali has invalid OC and Fake Drainage 

Friday, 30 December 2016

Bachao! Mumbai's Demolition Gangs are doing “Secret Encounters”

Mumbai, 30th December 2016: Did you know that Mumbai municipal officials can bulldoze and smash entire streets without official paperwork? No show-cause notices, no letters and memos, no demolition register entries, no records whatsoever. It's like normal BMC tod-phod in broad daylight, except there's no paper trail. If you ask under Right To Information, BMC says, “No records exist”.

On the morning of 10th December, 2015, Dinesh Bhosle (Sub Engineer H/West Ward), Vikrant Manyar (Junior Engineer) and Siddharth Kasare (petty works contractor) went to 40th Road, Old Khar West with casual labourers and a hired bulldozer, and smashed up many shop extensions.

Here's a video of the demolition, with local resident Imran Mansuri (red shirt) arguing with BMC officials and a policeman. Constable Sanjay Ware in this photo was identified by Khar Police Station in response to Imran’s RTI application. Following Mansuri's complaint to Deven Bharti, Joint CP (Law and Order), Constable Sanjay Ware, in his statement, was clear and truthful:

Surprisingly, although Mansuri wrote to Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta with photographic evidence, BMC still continues to repeat that there are no records, and MC's office maintains a stony silence. Several questions arise: Who paid for the bulldozer rentals and casual labourers? Did a private party pay for this smash-up? Did a local politician or businessman benefit from this unofficial demolition drive? Why the secrecy?

BMC officials: Yes, we were there but there are no records
  1. Sting video shows Junior Engineer Vikrant Manyar admits that he was present at the demolition, but says “no information is available about the demolition”.

  2. Another sting video shows MCGM’s First Appellate Authority Rajeshkumar Yadav (Executive Engineer, H/W Ward,) giving evasive replies. He threatens Imran Mansuri for going after the municipal officials with their photos. 
  3. Other RTI Applications, replies, complaints, etc. can be downloaded from here and here.

Mumbai police acknowledged the demolition on 10th December, 2015 on 40th Road, Old Khar West. But Mumbai's municipal corporation has no record. We all know that BMC routinely ignores thousands of unauthorized structures and building code violations throughout Mumbai, but we didn't know that BMC officials did some private tod-phod business on the side, off the books. Now we know,

Krishnaraj Rao

Saturday, 24 December 2016

FIR filed against K Raheja builder: Horizon Green Borivali has invalid OC and Fake Drainage

Mumbai, 24th December, 2016: Mumbai Police recently filed FIR against K Raheja's Palm Grove Beach Hotels Pvt Ltd. Reason? Violation of Town Planning Act by unauthorized construction of a drainage line in November-December 2015. Many months earlier, Palm Grove misled MCGM into giving Drainage Completion Certificate and  Occupation Certificate (OC) for their new building Horizon Green without drainage. To make up the lacuna, the developer belatedly built a drainage line going uphill. That's right, uphill!

The Deputy Municipal Commissioner's remarked on 5th January, 2016, "Validity of issue of occupation certificate dated on 18.4.2015 is doubtful".  If any flat-owners take possession and come to stay in their flats, they are in for a rude shock. When they start having baths and flushing toilets in sufficient numbers, their sewage will overflow.

See level difference in two blue circles in this drainage plan

Near the building, the drainage is 102.926 metres above mean sea level. Further down the line, the level is 105.862 metres – three metres higher, i.e. up the hill. The explanation given by K Raheja's CEO, M D Chande, is that "adequate slope is available between the last chamber in the building and the manhole on Municipal road to which the line is connected is confirmed by emptying water tanker in the last chamber in the presence of municipal staff." However, Mr Chande steadfastly refuses to back his claims with any figures i.e. metres above sea level, degree of slope, etc. Home buyers should remember that a slope of one foot per ten feet of length is needed for sewage sludge to flow; otherwise silting, stagnation and overflow are bound to happen.

Mr Chande alleges that as their neighbours deliberately blocked the old drainage line, he was forced to build the new uphill drainage.

Mr Chande claims that MCGM's Assistant Engineer - Maintenance gave NOC dated 20th November 2015 for the uphill drainage line without requiring the builder to submit any plans or diagrams

"Why seek NOC from Maintenance department? Why not Building Proposal department?" we asked Mr Chande. His reply was that after giving OC, Building Proposal has no further jurisdiction. So he was forced to approach Maintenance Department. But  MCGM disregarded the Maintenance Department NOC and issued instructions to prosecute Palm Grove Beach Hotels for "unauthorized lying of sewer pipeline and drainage work". Read MCGM's Designated Officer's sanction to prosecute.

DMC's remarks

MCGM's Deputy Municipal Commissioner wrote an office memo in January 2016, titled "Full Occupation Certificate issued... without completing all necessary works in the building". The DMC wrote: "It is reported that Building Proposal Department have given full Occupation Certificate to Building No. 6 on 18.4.2015... It is seen that now developer has started the work of laying drainage line. Designated Officer R/Central Ward had issued stop work notice on 9.12.2015... This clearly shows that before issue of occupation certificate, the drainage work was not completed." See the screenshot below.

The DMC's memo can be read at:

Catching small fish & setting the big ones free

The Assistant Police Inspector's statement prior to FIR mentions the mukadam Ramesh Kishan More, "Manager" Mr Chande and supervisor Virendra Dube. Read the statement:
As always, even while filing an FIR, the authorities catch unimportant minions and let the bosses go free. So, who were the persons named in the FIR? Not the directors of Palm Grove Beach Hotels and not even the project's architect. At first, FIR was registered against Mr Chande and Mr Virendra Dube, a site supervisor working on contract basis. Here's the screenshot.


Later, the FIR was further diluted by removal of Mr Chande's name with white ink, and its replacement with Mr Dube's name, evidently because they represented to MCGM that Mr Chande, CEO, is "not concerned in this matter". So Mr Dube's name is mentioned twice in the same sentence. See the screenshot below:

So the blame for this multi-crore rupee fraud is being pinned only on a site supervisor who has zero discretionary powers and only follows orders. One is reminded of Justice S J Kathawalla's recent reprimand to EOW in a case concerning a builder, "You arrested the smaller guy... and the builder, the big man, you say is wanted... Are you giving him a chance to take anticipatory bail?'' Hope someone drags Palm Grove before Justice Kathawalla!

Krishnaraj Rao

Read K Raheja CEO's detailed rebuttal to this press release.

Also Read: K Raheja's Horizon Green Building in Deep Trouble due to Unauthorized Soak Pit


Modi is that man your mother warned you about

"Mitron, I'm that man your mother warned you about," says Modi to all of us. A ripple of pleasure passes through the crowd, and dozens of people shudder and come in their pants.

Modi's premise is simple: Pain is good. "Is that so hard to believe, you fucking faggots?" he thunders.
His promise is simple. He promises to fuck this nation so hard, it will go numb from pain and blood-loss. "If you think demonetization was painful, you don't know what I'm about to shove up your ass next," he gloats. "Just lie down and keep quiet, it will hurt a lot less that way," he advises.

Modi is confident that India is full of people who say that the more it hurts, the better it is.

You know, the kind of people who say, Hit me baby one more time?

The kind of people who pay someone wearing leather thongs to tie them up, gag them and then whip them till they vomit and black out? Or choke them till they almost die? You know?

That's the kind of people we are. And if we aren't already that sort of people, we will become that way by the time Namo is finished with us.

That's what he's saying here:

K Raheja's REBUTTAL to our Press Release on HORIZON GREEN Drainage Issue

The below email was sent as a rebuttal to our press release.

From: K Raheja Constructions <>
Date: Fri, Dec 23, 2016 at 1:30 PM
Subject: Re: Kind Attn Mr Sandeep G Raheja: Draft Press Release about Horizon Green for your rebuttal
To: Krishnaraj Rao <>
Cc: unique <>, City Office <>, archana desai desai <>, "K.Raheja - Delhi" <>,
Mr. Krishnaraj Rao

Subject:        Building Horizon Green at Borivali.

Reference:    Your emails on 20-12-2016 & 22-12-2016.

At the outset, it may be stated that by and large the statements made in your draft release are far from facts & ground reality.  The rebut para-wise is as follows.

The levels mentioned in your first para of your draft as well as sketch furnished there below are surface levels and have no bearing with the invert levels of the inlet & outlet of drainage line, which govern the drainage flow. 

During my discussion with you I told you that the fact that adequate slope is available between the last chamber in the building and the manhole on Municipal road to which the line is connected is confirmed by emptying water tanker in the last chamber in the presence of municipal staff.

It may be further pointed out that the drainage completion (DCC) for building No. 6 known as Horizon Green was obtained from Building Proposal Department to connect the drainage line from last chamber of the building under reference to the existing drainage line in the layout & thereafter the full occupation permission for the building No. 6 was obtained (copies of DCC & OCC enclosed). Subsequently it was noticed that the said connection was damaged suspectedly by the occupants of the ‘Raheja Green Co-Op. Housing Ltd.  This was brought to the notice of Dy. Municipal Commissioner, Zone VII, Asstt. Engineer (Maint) R/C Ward and the Senior Inspector Police, Kasturba Police Station by writing letters (photocopies enclosed).  However no action so far taken by any of these authorities.

Being frustrated with the apathy of the public bodies, application for another connection was made in R/C ward office Asstt. Engineer (Maint).  The said permission was obtained and accordingly work was carried out maintaining the slope & levels as mentioned above (copy enclosed). 

Therefore your statements and the information on which they are based viz. “Rude shock because their drainage is connected to the Municipal Sewage that is uphill from the building, so, the drainage cannot work, and that the drainage work was not completed before occupation certificate etc.” are baseless and false.  If you want any further authentic proof you may contact R/C Ward staff of MCGM.
If therefore despite above explanation you choose to publish the draft article, please note that the same will be entirely at your risk, cost and consequences.

Yours sincerely,
(M.D. Chande)

N.B. Above supporting documents are for your information only and not to be parted to any other persons.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

"Cashless" endangers the masses: HDFC Bank leads the way

Mumbai, 22nd December, 2016: Think how dangerous cashless payment can be if you are a typical unwary customer. If you pay in cash, you have the assurance of knowing that nobody can reach into your wallet and take an extra buck. But if you pay online, extra money can be skimmed by your bank without your knowledge. Sanjeev Goel of Belapur, who runs a coaching academy, read his account statement and found that HDFC Bank had repeatedly made deductions that he wasn't informed about, had not permitted, and wasn't notified of by SMS alerts.

Sanjeev was charged Rs. 34.50 for each of the 32 times he paid student's fees of Rs 3000/- to Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). Sanjeev immediately got an SMS alert for debit of Rs 3000/- but not for Rs 34.50. TISS denies deducting that amount, so clearly, HDFC deducted it. For what? Authorized by whom?

Geetha Priya, Manager Correspondence (PNO Desk) claimed in an email: "We take this opportunity to reiterate that the surcharge information is available on the TISS web portal. But step-by-step analysis of the portal transaction shows that the information is not available on the TISS portal.

HDFC Bank managers enjoy discretionary power to (a) slap various charges on their customer (b) reverse the charges if confronted and questioned, and (c) "upgrade" or "downgrade" a customer's account by applying criteria that aren't disclosed to customers.
"This is not the only issue with HDFC Bank”, says Sanjeev. HDFC Bank has been guilty of direct fraud. They have levied charges for a 13-month prior transaction in my bank account, of Rs. 276 towards 'BC issuance charges'. When you ask them to downgrade an account from AQB (Average Quarterly Balance) Rs. 40,000 to AQB Rs. 10,000, they say 'don't worry, we will ensure that no AQB charges will be levied, you don't need to downgrade account', and then after 6 months, they levy the AQB charges. They charge for sending SMS for banking related transactions, and this was never informed to us. Our account statement clearly shows 'charges towards sms'."

So, what ails HDFC Bank generally?

1) Marketers doing bankers' jobs. HDFC Bank appears to be run by marketing executives chasing sales targets rather than bankers following regulations. Banking discipline and stewardship of customers' wealth is compromised. Buck-passing and false verbal assurances are normal. Employees frequently say things that they don't want to put in writing.
2) Abuse of discretionary powers, carrot-and-stick approach with customers. HDFC Bank managers enjoy discretionary power to (a) slap various charges on their customer (b) reverse the charges if confronted and questioned, and (c) "upgrade" or "downgrade" a customer's account by applying criteria that aren't disclosed to customers. Generally, banking is governed by strict rules, regulations, formats and criteria… but at HDFC Bank, this isn’t the case.

3) Skimming of customers' accounts. Is imposing unverifiable charges to lakhs of customers HDFC Bank's recipe for profitability? Only a few alert customers raise objections and have the charges reversed after weeks or months of struggle; the vast majority may not even notice. Is this how the bank earns thousands of crore rupees as "other incomes", "fees", "commissions", etc? HDFC Bank's latest annual report says, "Other Income grew 19.5 per cent over that of the previous year to INR 10,751.7 crore during the year ended March 31, 2016. The largest component of Other Income was fees and commissions, which increased by 17.8 per cent to INR 7,759 crore with the primary drivers being commissions on debit and credit cards, transactional charges, fees on deposit accounts..." To the layman’s ears, this sounds suspiciously like skimming of debit and cards, and deposit accounts.

Our Prime Minister wants the gullible and unschooled masses of India to rely heavily on such banks for day-to-day transactions. Does he fully comprehend how this can play out?

Krishnaraj Rao

Saturday, 17 December 2016

What my Atheism means for believers & religious people

Let me unpack the atheism concept a bit. Theism is belief in a deity, a creator. Such belief is a default position in society, because of how we are all born into Christian, Hindu or Muslim families.. and that's how we end up with Hindu-sounding names like Krishnaraj or Christian-sounding names like Lata Tauro. Based on our names, everybody, including State, assumes that we are followers of Hinduism, Christianity, etc.

However, some of us (like Lata and I, for instance) analyze our childhood indoctrination and conditioning little by little (or all at once) and we conclude that our earlier beliefs were based on mythology rather than reality. We come to the conclusion that our religious faith is totally unsupported by evidence. (Simultaneously, we also process the available information and come to the conclusion that other religions besides ours are also similarly unsupported by any evidence.)
Nor is it just a question of lack of evidence in the existence of a deity. Atheists like us actually find lots of EVIDENCE THAT THERE IS NO DEITY. The existence of any kind of deity defies our logic entirely, and requires huge amount of suspension of disbelief.

A lot of theists are habitually suspending disbelief, rather than actually believing in a deity. Suspension of disbelief is not the same thing as actual belief. Suspension of disbelief means, "I don't believe in god, demons, ghosts, soul, the supernatural, etc. but I am willing to act as if I do, just to go with the flow of society and my family."

Theism and atheism are intellectual, emotional and social positions that we adopt, just like conservatism, liberalism, etc. There is a strong element of conscious choice, and atheists are probably the first to recognize the "conscious" part of it, because they make a conscious shift from their socially-given default position.

The theists -- the people who believe in one deity or another -- tend to feel that their faith -- Hinduism, Islam, etc. -- is the "only right choice", and everybody else is just plain deluded. They tend to be self-righteous because they feel that a higher authority -- namely their god and their scriptures -- validate and sanction the use of force in making people believe and bow before their god. They tend to rely on crowd-support to make their point.

Atheists also naturally feel that their position is the only correct logical position to adopt, but they aren't driven by feelings of self-righteousness. The primary source of their self-assurance is knowing that they could overcome their own social & religious conditioning, and that they can stand apart from the crowd.

Atheists don't necessarily want to convert believers into non-believers. There is no need for you guys to feel threatened by us. We are just stating our position in our own space. If you guys want to keep your beliefs, that is just fine by us, and we can all be friends