De­mol­ish all ‘re­con­structed’ il­le­gal struc­tures near Tansa pipe­line: HC

The Free Press Journal - - MUMBAI - NARSI BENWAL

The Bom­bay High Court recently took cog­nizance of the ram­pant il­le­gal con­struc­tion be­ing car­ried out near the Tansa pipe­line, which is con­sid­ered to be one of the ma­jor wa­ter sup­ply­ing pipelines for Mum­bai. The HC ac­cord­ingly di­rected the Bri­han­mum­bai Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion (BMC) to pull down all the il­le­gal struc­tures, which are ‘re­con­structed’ even af­ter be­ing de­mol­ished by the civic body.

In­ter­est­ingly, the HC had is­sued di­rec­tions for the de­mo­li­tion of hundreds of il­le­gal slums con­structed along side the Tansa pipe­line, way back in 2006, cit­ing se­cu­rity is­sues. And since then, the civic body has failed to ini­ti­ate ac­tion against all the il­le­gal struc­tures and is still strug­gling to re­ha­bil­i­tate the en­croach­ers.

The re­cent orders were passed by a divi­sion bench of Justice Ab­hay Oka and Justice Riyaz Chagla recently while hear­ing a writ pe­ti­tion filed by Mo­hammed Asim Haji Mo­hammed. The pe­ti­tion claimed that sev­eral il­le­gal huts were re-con­structed even af­ter be­ing de­mol­ished ear­lier by the civic body. The judges af­ter ad­mit­ting the pe­ti­tion, had di­rected the As­sis­tant En- gi­neer (Main­te­nance) L Ward, Kurla, to file an af­fi­davit re­spond­ing to the pe­ti­tion.

Pur­suant to the orders, the En­gi­neer filed an af­fi­davit and an­nexed pho­to­graphs of the site.

Hav­ing pe­rused the af­fi­davit, Justice Oka said, “Prima fa­cie it ap­pears to us that there is a merit in the con­tention of the Pe­ti­tion­ers that the per­sons whose struc­tures were par­tially de­mol­ished for im­ple­ment­ing the orders of this Court have re­con­structed the de­mol­ished por­tions of the struc­tures.”

The judges noted that a wall has been con­structed by the BMC af­ter its ear­lier de­mo­li­tion drive, to en­sure that no en­croach­ment is made within the dis­tance of 10 me­ters from the main pipe­line. The judges fur­ther noted that no struc­tures were con­structed be­yond the com­pound wall.

Justice Oka said, “In the af- fi­davit filed by the BMC, there is a vague as­sur­ance to take ac­tions. It is an ad­mit­ted position that the per­sons who have been al­lot­ted the al­ter­nate ac­com­mo­da­tions have in­dulged in re­con­struc­tion of the de­mol­ished struc­tures with­out per­mis­sion of the civic body. We there­fore, di­rect the BMC to ini­ti­ate im­me­di­ate ac­tion of de­mo­li­tion in re­la­tion to the said struc­tures.”

“If the civic body finds that in lieu of the de­mol­ished por­tion of the struc­tures, the per­sons con­cerned have been al­lot­ted al­ter­nate ac­com­mo­da­tion, even an ac­tion of can­cel­la­tion of the al­lot­ment of al­ter­nate ac­com­mo­da­tion shall be taken af­ter fol­low­ing the due process of law. We make it clear that the ac­tion will have to be ini­ti­ated im­me­di­ately,” Justice Oka added.

Justice Oka fur­ther said that if the BMC fails to take im­me­di­ate ac­tion in re­spect of the re­con­struc­tion of de­mol­ished struc­tures, there is ev­ery pos­si­bil­ity that this in­ac­tion will en­cour­age oth­ers to take such il­le­gal steps. The judges ac­cord­ingly di­rected L Ward’s Deputy Mu­nic­i­pal

Com­mis­sioner to un­der­take cor­rec­tive steps im­me­di­ately and file an af­fi­davit re­gard­ing the same by June 8. The mat­ter is likely to be heard on June 15.

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