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Monday, September 27, 2021

Bombay HC asks Vasai-Virar administrator to act against 9,000 illegal structures, says building collapses ‘causing agony’ among citizens

The High Court asked the municipal commissioner to submit a report on the further course of action, within two weeks.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
August 5, 2021 10:00:15 pm
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni passed directions while hearing a PIL by Nallasopara resident Terrence Hendriques, seeking direction for the demolition of all illegal and unauthorised structures in the jurisdiction of the VVMC. (File Photo)

Maintaining that occupants of illegal structures cannot be at an advantage at the cost of the entire society, and that building collapses are “causing agony” amongst citizens, the Bombay High Court has directed the commissioner of Vasai-Virar Municipal Corporation (VVMC), who is also the administrator, to initiate steps against over 9,000 illegal and unauthorised structures existing in its jurisdiction.

The High Court asked the municipal commissioner to submit a report on the further course of action, within two weeks.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni passed directions while hearing a PIL by Nallasopara resident Terrence Hendriques, seeking direction for the demolition of all illegal and unauthorised structures in the jurisdiction of the VVMC.

The civic body’s counsel informed the court that there are about 9,000 illegal structures in its area; however, the petitioner disputed the figure and said the figure was close to 12,000.

“Be that as it may, it appears that the number of illegal constructions is to a large extent,” the bench noted.

The civic body’s lawyer also said most of the constructions came up when City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) was overseeing administration earlier. The civic body submitted that such structures are already identified and information in that regard is given in suo motu PIL that the HC initiated in September 2020 after the collapse of a building in Thane’s Bhiwandi, which claimed 40 lives.

The VVMC lawyer said the term of the municipal corporation expired in June 2020 and, hence, instead of a mayor, it is managed by the commissioner, who is appointed as an administrator by the state as the elections could not be held due to the pandemic.

“Do not get into the blame game, now you (VVMC) are in charge. Why do we see the failure of corporations in the entire state? Whatever constitutional status is granted to them is not working at all. It is acting adversely for citizens. There are illegal structures causing agony. Why do you need elections? We will stop them,” the bench said.

Justice Kulkarni went on to note, “Occupants of these 9,000 structures cannot be advantaged at the cost of the entire society. There are two classes, people who are rampantly violating the law and the other abiding by the same. The situation is very difficult and unfortunate. And it is happening with such a young corporation like Vasai-Virar. After some years, it will be like Mumbai, Kalyan-Dombivli or Ulhasnagar where people are dying (due to building collapses). We want the administrator to take action.”

Seeking a response from the VVMC administrator, the bench posted further hearing in the PIL after two weeks.

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