Nagpur: Troubled times continued for the city’s two famous erections – Wockhardt Hospital near Shankar Nagar Square and Empress Mall near Gandhi Sagar lake in Nagpur. While the former is struggling to deal with lease issues as the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court dismissed a review petition filed by it. In the petition, the hospital had challenged the court’s earlier orders directing NIT to undertake fresh decisions on quantum of lease premium and ground rent charged by Rashtra Bhasha Sabha at first renewal from March 31, 1991-2021. The trust was told to further calculate lease premium after change of user from Sabha to Wockhardt from February 21, 2004 to March 31, 2021, for additional FSI, as per the Land Disposal Rules, 1983.
Similarly Empress Mall, which has been in the news for violation of various norms in construction, is continuing with its whims. This time Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court, on Wednesday, issued notice to NMC and its other departments on their failure to take action against owners of Empress Mall in which there are large-scale violations of fire safety regulations and other norms.
Wockhardt may have to pay more
Through its counsel Deven Chauhan, Wockhardt authorities contended that it was only on lease and rent should be recovered from SMG Hospitals and Sabha, who actually rented the premises to them. Tushar Mandlekar, appearing for original petitioner Madhukar Kukde, opposed Wockhardt’s contentions. However, the court made it clear that since the hospital was operating from the premises since long, it should pay arrears to NIT.
In its September 7 order, the court told NIT to recover additional premium and ground rent, which would become payable as per current rent, from the Sabha within two months. NIT would recover the arrears in 12 equal bimonthly instalments, either from the Sabha or from the Wockhardt Hospital, either jointly or separately.
Crores of water bills, property tax pending on Empress Mall
In the Empress Mall case, the court also made NMC assistant director of Town Planning, KSL and Industries Limited, chief secretary of State Urban Development Department, and PVR Cinemas director, as respondents in the case. All of them were told to file reply before November 16.
The PIL, filed by social workers Chandu Lade and Rakesh Naidu, through counsels Anirudha Deo and Vivek Bharadwaj, also raised other issues like illegal construction in the mall, pending water bills of Rs28 crore, property tax dues worth Rs14 crore, and entertainment tax. The petitioners also highlighted non-compliance of norms of Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, Central Ground Water Board, Bombay Shop and Establishment Act, Labour Act, and Provident Fund rules. The duo claimed that NMC failed to act on its own notice to the mall owners of vacating all its establishments, as it was unsafe with regards to fire safety.
The petitioners’ prayed for declaration of Empress Mall illegal and demanded its demolition as per the law. They also called for immediate penal action against KSL Industries and PVR Cinemas for failure to follow public safety measures. They pressed for action against NMC officials for neglecting their duties and thus comprising with public safety.