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To protect or to pull down: state hopes SC will show way out of Thane dilemma

The government is walking a tightrope between a Bombay High Court directive to demolish all unauthorised structures in Thane and its own commitment to protecting such structures built in or before 2000.

Written by Shweta Desai | Mumbai | Published: June 28, 2010 3:22:11 am

Illegal structures: HC says demolish all in Thane,state wants 2000 cutoff

The government is walking a tightrope between a Bombay High Court directive to demolish all unauthorised structures in Thane and its own commitment to protecting such structures built in or before 2000.

Amid the confusion over whether to protect or demolish buildings constructed between 1995 and 2000,the state government has urged the High Court to wait till the Supreme Court delivers a judgment on extension of protection till 2000.

Following a public interest litigation by Harit Vasai Sanrakshan Samiti (HVSS),the High Court had slammed the state for allowing unauthorised structures to mushroom. Although the government has now prepared an action plan to carry demolition on public land by December 31,it hopes the court will allow it to go soft on illegal residential structures,of which there are so many that demolition could backfire for the government.

According to an affidavit by the Thane deputy commissioner,the district has 2,36,462 illegal structures,of which over 75,000 are in Kalwa and 41,671 in Mumbra.

“While the government grants protection to encroachments prior to January 1,1995,a request to extend this till 2000 is pending in the Supreme Court since 2007. Therefore,the High Court may allow the government to wait till the Supreme Court decision and proceed accordingly,” the urban development department (UDD) says in a note it submitted to the High Court a few days ago,following a meeting of a high-powered committee headed by Chief Secretary J P Dange.

A bureaucrat said,“While we are keen to demolish the illegal structures by the year-end,there is a possibility that the Supreme Court will deliver its verdict and grant protection till 2000. We are awaiting that judgment and want the High Court to consider it.”

Officials said they will wait for the High Court to specify whether to demolish unauthorised structures built till 2000 or those constructed thereafter. The hearing is scheduled on July 1.

The UDD meeting has also asked all civic bodies in Thane district to chalk out a plan for removal of unauthorised constructions on public land. Non-residential structures on foothpaths,pathways and other public land will have to be identified,sent notices and razed by September.

HVSS lawyer Uday Warandikar said the High Court had asked for demolition of all illegal structures till date. “In any case,the policy decision should be in accordance with the welfare of citizens.”

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