BMC razes 2 film studios in Madh for unauthorised construction

BRIHANMUMBAI Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Tuesday demolished two film studios in the Madh’s Bhati gaon for unauthorised construction in Coastal Regulation Zone III (CRZ), without permission from Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA).

Last week, Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal had ordered an inquiry into the legality of 49 studios in Madh, Marve, Bhati, Erangal, and Malad that came up between 2021 and 2022 in the No-Development Zone (NDZ) and CRZ following complaints that they were built without proper permissions, but with the help of BMC and MCZMA officials.

On August 26 and 27, BMC issued notices to all studio structures constructed in CRZ without BMC permissions, giving them eight days to submit the requisite permissions. Kiran Dighavkar, assistant commissioner of the P.North ward, said, “There were five studios comprising multiple studio structures that received this notice from BMC, including Balaji Tirupati Cinema, Bhatia Bollywood Studio LLP, Expression studio, and Millenior studio. Bhatia studio already carried out its demolition, and Balaji Studio approached the court that stayed BMC action.”

Expression and Millenior studio informed BMC that they intend to carry out demolition on Tuesday, so BMC sent its manpower and machinery for the same, Dighavkar said. The fifth studio does not fall under CRZ, Dighavkar clarified. While Expression studio is spread across 760 sq m , Millenior studio is spread across 892 sq m.

On September 7, the office of the suburban collector of Mumbai wrote to BMC’s P/North ward with jurisdiction over these areas, asking the civic body to take appropriate action against Millenior for operating in CRZ III without permission from MCZMA. On September 13, BMC also issued a notice to Expression studio for failing to submit documents of permission from MCZMA.

The sheds were given permissions from the ward office to erect temporary studio structures in 2020, and 2021, to boost film production industry post-pandemic. At the time, BMC checked if the applicants had MCZMA no-objection certificates. Both the BMC and MCZMA permissions are valid for a period of six months. However, the ward office continued to renew permission on the basis of the one-time MCZMA NOC that was not renewed again by the applicant.

The initial (first) permissions to erect the temporary sheds were given as per an old Ease of Doing Business circular issued by the BMC that allowed for such temporary structures with permissions obtained at the ward level only, said a senior civic official official.

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