Palais Royale, the much talked about project worth Rs 3,500-crore has been mired in litigation for more than five years following the allegations of large-scale rule violations.

The structure of the building has been lying complete however there are severe violations of building bye-laws particularly the misuse of Refuge Area and gross negligence of Fire Safety Guidelines as issued by the Government.

The controversial project has been embroiled in litigation for the past four years after NGO Janhit Manch dragged the developer, Shree Ram Urban Infrastructure Ltd (SRUIL), to court for large-scale violations. The public parking tower is completely illegal as per the ngo claims.

The developer received the permission to build a 15-storey parking tower in 2010, under the state government’s cross-subsidy policy, which it is suppose to hand over free of cost to the BMC for public parking. In return, the developer will receive additional construction rights in the form of incentive floor space index (FSI) for the residential tower named Palais Royale. However in 2011, the BMC changed its policy, restricting the height of public parking lots up to four floors! By then, SRUIL had procured construction permission only up to the plinth level. However, it continued to build the entire parking tower before Janhit Manch challenged the legality on the grounds that sanction was only till the plinth level. The municipal corporation too directed the developer to build the parking tower according to the new policy (four floors).

The developer challenged this order reducing the number of floors from 15 to four in the high court. The Bombay high court allowed the developer to apply for regularisation of the multi-level public parking lot above the plinth, stating that the developer would have to apply for a fresh commencement certificate. The developer’s plea against recalculating the FSI of the building, as it had already invested over Rs 2,000 crore in the project and completed construction, was also rejected by the court. The builder also said that the tower with 900 parking lots was in public interest. The HC disagreed saying “but for the incentive FSI (that the developer could claim) they would not have constructed it for social service”.

Following the high court’s directive, the BMC reviewed the parking tower and concluded that it had “substantially progressed” and that the builder had incurred Rs 165 crore on it. “As such, it is not practically possible to amend the public parking lot and propose a building with four floors as there is no space available,” said the BMC. The civic chief then decided to charge premium amounting to Rs 118 crore on the builder and another 44 crore as penalty.

Now the unoccupied skyscraper, which has almost reached its full height of 294 metres is lying isolated. In this scenario, the biggest sufferers are people who booked the sprawling apartments, that is costing between Rs 30 crore and Rs 50 crore each. Many flat buyers have already paid 50% to 70%, while some are believed to have paid the entire amount. Only because of builders’ and architects’ self interests common public has to suffer a great loss.

Despite the unauthorised and illegal construction in Palais Royale project, there are various other offences done by Developer Company SRUIL that are punishable under Indian Penal Code, Prevention of Corruption Act, Income Tax Act, 1961 and Bombay Stamps Act, 1958; through collusion, connivance or conspiracy with some other corporate/ financial institutions having great influence in the market; the said developer company is walking scott-free.