January 29, 2009 1:31:46 am
High Court not satisfied as state has not acted upon earlier court orders
The state government on Wednesday informed the Bombay High Court that it is planning to set up a civic police force to deal with illegal constructions. The court was hearing three PILs on rampant unauhtorised constructions in and around Vasai in Thane district.
An affidavit filed by Manu Kumar Shrivastav,secretary,Urban Development,says that government is examining feasibility of setting up a 4-tier institutional framework,which will consist of civic police. Regular policemen would be deputed to civic authorities for this purpose,the affidavit states.
It further says that the state is contemplating independent police stations in all cities where cases of encroachment will be registered and special courts at the district level to try such cases. And for this purpose amendments would be carried out in Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act of 1967,and other municipal acts to make officers responsible for checking encroachments more accountable. All these measures are expected to materialize by the end of February,affidavit says.
The division bench of Justice J N Patel and Justice K K Tated,however,said that this was eyewash and there was nothing new about the proposals,since the government has not even implemented the earlier court orders.
The court noted that on the last date,principal secretary of Urban Development department had been asked to give action plan for dealing with encroachment in Thane,but todays affidavit was silent on it.
Adovocate Uday Warunjikar,representing Harit Vasai Sanrakshan Samitee,one of the petitioners,alleged that there were some five lakh illegal constructions in the Thane district.
The court was further irked when it learned that a report by Maharashtra Pollution Control Board states that municipal authorities at Vasai,Navaghar-Manikpur,Virar and Nallasopara are to be blamed for polluting the Vasai creek. Affidavit by MPCB says that criminal cases have been filed under Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act against concerned officers for allowing untreated sewage to flow into the creek and pollute the marine coastal area.
The court has now constituted a committee comprising chief secretary,principal secretaries of Urban Development,Rural Development,Finance,Energy and the director of Municipal Administration to submit report on what steps would be taken to deal with encroachment and pollution in Thane. Committee will have to give a time-frame,not longer than six months,to implement the orders. The report should be submitted by February 25.
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