BMC gets lever to bypass civil courts before demolition drives

BMC plans to put to good use an amendment it quietly introduced in Mumbai Municipal Corporation (MMC) Act last year to take tough action against illegal constructions.

Written by Sharvari Patwa | Published:April 19, 2013 3:31 am

BMC plans to put to good use an amendment it quietly introduced in Mumbai Municipal Corporation (MMC) Act last year to take tough action against illegal constructions.

The 515 (a) amendment lets the civic body demolish illegal structures without intervention by way of stay orders promoters of illegal constructions normally obtain from city civil courts. To effect to the amendment,BMC has empowered 64 designated officials — executive engineers — to function as a demolition squad. These officials are also protected from intervention by senior BMC officials,including deputy and assistant municipal commissioners.

There will be only two-three wards under the jurisdiction of each of these 64 designated officials,ensuring better action. They will not only undertake demolition work in the 227 corporator wards but also closely monitor and identify illegal and unauthorised buildings.

“Earlier,action against illegal structures would get mired in legal tangles as most people would get stay orders from civil courts. This amendment seeks to stop this racket,” said BMC commissioner Sitaram Kunte.

Before the amendment,BMC was required to issue a notice to illegal structures under sections 351 and 354 (a) of MMC Act before it could go ahead with demolitions.

Kunte said the civic body would now be able to act against multi-storey buildings. “We are also appointing a private agency to help with demolitions,” he said.

The agency would have the right machinery and safety measures in place to undertake large demolitions,including of buildings with reinforced cement concrete (RCC). The amendment,which does not apply to illegal structures in slums,however,will not stop the affected parties from seeking stays from Bombay High Court.

But Kunte believes getting a stay from HC would not be easy. “Here,the proof of legality of a structure needs to be attached with a writ,which is not generally available as most of these cases have severe illegalities,” he said.

Following the Mumbra building collapse that claimed 74 lives,BMC has set stringent guidelines for action against unauthorised,and dilapidated and dangerous buildings. The civic body has demolished 18,309 residential and 11,227 commercial structures in the past three years and removed 30,272 slumdwellers.

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