IN spite of repeated requests by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to remove illegal encroachments on railway land at Behrampada posing a hurdle to de-silting work of major and minor nullahs, the Railways and the planning authority, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) have failed to demolish the illegal structures. The civic body is now planning to serve notices to the Railways and the MMRDA under the Disaster Management Act 2005 to carry out the demolition of the structures at the earliest.
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Assistant municipal commissioner of H East ward, Prashant Gaikwad, stated that there are around 425 structures which are part of the Behrampada slum and have come up in the Chamdawadi nullah in Bandra East. “We have written to both the government agencies three times asking them to remove the encroachments since the contractor is unable to complete the de-silting work on 700 metres of the major nullah. Though the Railway, in their reply, had stated that they would remove the encroachments, they have not done so yet,” said Gaikwad.
A civic official pointed out that since the encroachments are in the jurisdiction of another government agency, the municipal commissioner has now decided to send them notices under the Disaster Management Act 2005. “We cannot demolish structures on Railway land or any other government agency’s land. However, if the encroachments can lead to a disaster, like a flood in this case, the Disaster Management Act can be invoked and the encroachments will have to be removed. The BMC will send these notices to the Railways and MMRDA this week,” said the official.
Currently, there are around 22,800 encroachments on major nullahs due to which 86 projects of the storm water drains department including work for the Brihanmumbai Storm Water Disposal System (BRIMSTOWAD) project as well as minor nullahs have been halted. Of the total number of encroachments, 4,508 lie within the city zone, 8,343 are in the eastern suburbs and 10,023 are in the western suburbs.
Earlier this month, municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta directed all the ward officials as well as the deputy municipal commissioners to remove all these encroachments on priority. The civic official stated that notices invoking the Disaster Management Act may be sent out in other areas as well.