THE Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has taken action in only 6 per cent of complaints received regarding unauthorised construction during the last 32 months. The response to a Right To Information (RTI) application has revealed that from March 1, 2016 to October 31, 2018, the civic body received 76,491 complaints on its Removal of Encroachment Tracking Management System (RETMS) from residents in all 24 wards, but they demolished only 4,866 unauthorised constructions.
The RTI application was filed by Kurla-based activist Shakeel Shaikh to get details of BMC’s action against illegal constructions following the Kamala Mills and Sakinaka farsan shop fire tragedies, in which illegal construction was a prime cause.
“Data shows that the civic body has received 76,491 complaints regarding illegal constructions but they have done inspection of 33,782 complaints. The notices were issued in only 17,881 cases. What is more shocking is that the demolition action was taken in only 4,866 cases, which only 27 per cent of total notices issued. The numbers also show that they are yet to do an inspection in 9,292 cases,” said Shaikh.
He further said: “The numbers itself explain the civil body’s negligence of illegal constructions despite there being an online system operational to address this. Fire incidents in Kamala Mills, Sakinaka, at Hotel City Kinara in Kurla and also the collapse of Sai Siddhi building in Ghatkopar or the Husaini Building in Bhendi Bazar were all examples of illegal constructions that caused loss of lives.”
According to the data, maximum number of complaints (7,514) were received in P-North (Malad), followed by 7,008 in L ward (Kurla). The BMC issued notices to 1,320 establishments in P-North Ward and to 953 establishments in Kurla (L Ward) to unauthorised constructions. Later, demolition of 484 and 182 constructions, respectively, was undertaken in the two wards. Data also shows that the BMC spent over Rs 20 crore on getting police protection during action against these structures.
Shaikh said, “Every year, the civic body sends about 15,000 notices to illegal constructions but action is taken in very few cases. There are bogus demolitions also done by BMC staff. Only 10 to 20 per cent of their demolition activities are genuine. After sending notices, there was no action taken in many cases and it clearly shows connivance of municipal officials with builders of these structures. Corrupt officials should be suspended and BMC is unnecessarily maligning the image of activists. I have written a letter to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta to take action against illegal constructions and officials who are helping offenders.”Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Incharge of Encroachment Removal), Vijay Balamvar was not available for comment.