The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Saturday began to demolish the illegal ramp constructed outside actor Shah Rukh Khan’s bungalow ‘Mannat’ in Bandra. At 8 am, around 35 BMC staff and 40 labourers reached the bungalow with six breakers and generator set JCB to demolish the six-inch thick reinforced concrete slab that made up the ramp. The action came after Khan took no action despite a notice, which was issued to him on February 6 by the BMC to demolish the illegal ramp.
“The deadline passed, but Khan took no action. So we asked for police protection and began the demolition,” said R S Yadav, assistant engineer from the H-West ward. A senior official had earlier confirmed that the BMC had received a letter from the actor’s wife, Gauri Khan, saying the ramp had been constructed with due permission. “But we replied to the letter, refuting the claims,” said the official.
The illegal ramp on Cement Road allegedly obstructed people from accessing public road, which connects Bandstand to Mount Mary Road. A large number of people frequently use this road to visit Mount Mary Church, especially during the church feast.
Citizen groups’ have been writing to the BMC for the past three years, spearheaded by Watchdog Foundation, a citizens’ group. The civic body, however, was forced to act only after Poonam Mahajan, BJP MP from Mumbai North Central, wrote to Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte on January 29.
“This ramp, said to have been constructed by one bungalow owner, is causing permanent obstruction to people accessing the public road. The ramp is known to be used by the bungalow owner to park his private heavy motor vehicle,” wrote Mahajan in her letter, without naming the actor.
Nicholas Almeida, member of Watchdog Foundation, said, “The BMC has given us a Valentine’s Day gift by finally demolishing the illegal ramp, which blocked our short route to Mount Mary Church. SRK said ‘don’t underestimate the power of the common man’ in a recent movie. Now, after three years of fighting, we showed him what it truly means.”
Citizens activists had gathered in large numbers to witness the demolition on Saturday. “We have been complaining for three years about an illegality, but the civic body did not take any action. Does the BMC take action against an illegality only if an elected representative complains? The civic body should charge the actor under the relevant act for not demolishing the ramp himself and recover the money spent on the demolition from him,” said Anil Joseph, chairperson, Perry Road Residents’ Association.
The demolition work would continue on Sunday, said Vijay Kamble, assistant commissioner, H-West ward.