Nearly 55 years after it was first set up, the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), one of the country’s largest industrial land owners, will finally get a dedicated encroachment removal department. The MIDC is presently in control of nearly 1.5 lakh hectares of land, in various stages of acquisition. The mandate of the department that was set up in 1962 is to acquire land, undertake provisioning of infrastructure on these plots and facilitate setting up of industrial units in these designated areas.
However, a major chunk of these lands has been prone to encroachments. Historically, the MIDC has relied on the help of local administration and the local police to help clear these encroachments. However, with the local administration stretched, the agency had been facing problems in evicting squatters.
The MIDC had in the past acknowledged to the Bombay High Court that limited resources were hampering removal of encroachments. While there is no exact figure of how much MIDC land is encroached across the state, officials state that nearly 20 per cent of the agency’s land parcels had squatters.
In order to tide over the crisis, the Maharashtra government has now given the MIDC the go-ahead to set up its own anti-encroachments cell. The cell, to be set up as per need basis in each MIDC industrial zone, will be headed by an official of the deputy collector rank and will comprise nine officials from the administrative staff, along with a 13-member police contingent.
“The acquisition of land by the corporation is done gradually in steps. It so happens that at one land parcel in a particular project gets encroached and then it becomes difficult to develop the entire project. We don’t have our own dedicated encroachment staff and have to rely on help from local administration and the police who are already stretched thin. A dedicated staff of our own will go a long way in tackling the menace of encroachment,” said a senior MIDC official.