It looks like the six-month plan for evicting and removing unauthorised structures around Jogeshwari caves will take a lot more time than anticipated by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI),state government and the BMC.
In August 2008 the authorities concerned had submitted a six-month plan to the Bombay High Court following which the court had sought a quarterly report detailing the progress of the plan. However,the plan is into the seventh month now and there is still a lot to be done,according to the ASI.
According to G S Narasimhan,Superintendent of Archeology,encroachments are still to be removed. Encroachments have not been removed so far. There are still a lot of things to be done, Narasimhan said. He added,The Urban Development Department will remove the encroachments.
An affidavit submitted by Manu Kumar Srivastava,Secretary,Urban Development department,in the form of the quarterly progress report has stated that the Deputy Collector (Encroachment and Removal),through an order dated October 15,2008 has denotified the area which was earlier declared as the slum area around the Jogeshwari caves.
He added that the ASI has submitted a proposal to the Principal Secretary,UD department,and the Commissioner of Municipal Corporation for declaring the surrounding areas of Jogeshwari caves as Heritage Precinct Area reserved for garden.
He also admitted that the landlords of the area couldnt produce the proof of the date of construction of the structures erected on the land and the exact information of the land couldnt be obtained.
The court-constituted committee had then decided to conduct a joint survey after which the corporation will issue notices and take necessary action.
Dont know what progress is happening regarding removal of encroachments. The committee has not met for a couple of months now, said Amicus Curie (friend of the court) and member of the committee Shiraz Rustomji.
The court last year had directed that in case the aggrieved encroachers want to move the court they should directly come to the high court and not go to any lower court and secure a stay for the purpose of minimum intervention.
Rustomji had told the court that Jogeshwari caves needed the attention of the court as there were encroachments even on top of the cave and not just in the prohibited area around them.
As for the rehabilitation of the families it has been decided by the government that the land owners if they opt for TDR will have to take measures for rehabilitation. If TDR is not opted then the ASI will have to undertake that they shall provide for the rehabilitation of families living in the protected structures.
The plan was chalked out following court directions based on a PIL filed by Janhit Manch,an NGO for the conservation of the Jogeshwari,Mahakali,Kanheri and Mandapeshwar,based on Newsline reports on the neglected condition of the caves.