In Navi Mumbai 3-star hotel, state bargain: Take extra FSI, reserve rooms for govt

A petition pending in the Bombay High Court has brought to light a unique case where the state government, while granting additional FSI for a three-star hotel in Navi Mumbai, put an official condition that a certain number of rooms should be reserved for government nominees free-of-cost.

The hotel in question is Tunga Regency in Vashi. The government granted an additional FSI equivalent to a built-up area of 1,141.21 sq m, which was over and above the FSI of 1.5 already granted. This was after the hotel deposited an initial amount of Rs 1.52 lakh each to the state government, the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC), and the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO), the development authority for Navi Mumbai.

The letter, which conveys the grant of approval stipulates the condition, states, "Certain number of rooms on such terms and conditions as may be decided by the government shall have to be reserved for government nominees free-of-cost." The letter, signed by S R Kini, the undersecretary to the state government, was addressed in February 2006 to the NMMC commissioner.

The other conditions include paying the remaining three installments and an undertaking to create a provision for parking after the lease for a separate parking lot expired.

The petition, filed by Vashi-based activist Sandeep Thakur, questions the legality of the parking arrangement for the hotel. According to him, it has been made on an adjoining plot owned by CIDCO. Thakur questions whether a provision for parking for a hotel can be allowed on a plot outside the hotel premises.

Speaking about the condition pertaining to reserving rooms in the hotel, Thakur says, "This is sheer brazenness on the authorities' part. Such arrangements are usually done in a discreet manner. However, this illegality took in an official manner."

However, Prasad Dhakephalkar, counsel for the hotel before the High Court said, "The issue of grant of additional FSI was not part of the original petition but raised later. On the alleged illegal parking arrangements, CIDCO has the authority to allow its plot to be used for such a purpose. Apart from parking arrangements for the hotel at the stilt level, there is also a provision of public parking on the plot at the ground level. In fact, this hotel was started by the Tunga group when the area was not as developed as it is now and no one was ready to invest in it."

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