AROUND three months after the BJP had to demolish an unauthorised portion of its head office in Nariman Point following orders of the Bombay High Court, the party has now been issued a notice by the civic body for constructing a monsoon shed without the permission of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. Even though BJP members maintain that no norms have been violated, the BMC refers to the monsoon shed as illegal and has ordered it to be demolished at the earliest.
In March, as part of a public interest litigation filed by the trustees of the Nariman Point Churchgate Citizens Welfare Trust against encroachments in the Jawaharlal Nehru Park, which has been marked as a recreation ground in the development plan, the High Court had ordered the BJP and other political parties like the Janata Dal to remove the illegal extensions. The BJP then demolished the extensions and reduced the size of their office from 2,650 square feet to the permissible area of 1,200 square feet.
However, earlier this month, they constructed a monsoon shed around the office. The party’s spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said the BJP had sent an application for the monsoon shed in May but had received no response from the BMC. “We had sent an application on May 11 only for a monsoon shed but till the end of the month we didn’t hear from the BMC even though we followed up with them twice. On May 26, we had sent another letter to the BMC after which the rain had started and we constructed the shed. In any case, if there is no response from the BMC in 15 days’ time, then permission is deemed granted,” he said.
Bhandari argued that the BJP had not violated any of the norms of the civic body as well as the orders of the High Court. “We had been asked to maintain an office space of 1,200 square feet, which we have. The other part can be canopied which will be removed after the monsoon months are over. We have not committed any violation as the government has allotted the land to us,” he said.
Referring to the residents who approached the High Court and filed a PIL, Bhandari claimed they had a vested interest in the issue. “The residents have a hardcore political agenda of getting the BJP office demolished. They have no concerns for the open spaces at all,” he said.
Civic officials, however, rubbished the claims of the BJP and said that no permission had been granted to them. “While in case of some building permissions, if there is no response for longer than a stipulated time period, the application may be deemed granted, there is no such provision in case of monsoon sheds. Permissions given for monsoon sheds are a form of administrative privilege. The BJP’s shed is illegal and they will have to demolish it,” said a senior civic official.
Another official from the A ward said that while they had received the BJP’s application, it was not possible to grant them permission for the same. “They had no permissions to construct the monsoon shed as it would, in a way, violate the orders of the High Court. In fact on June 7, we sent them a notice and have asked them to remove the shed at the earliest possible,” said the official.