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Crackdown on illegal shops in basements

Officials of the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation will on Monday hold a hearing with some builders issued show-cause notices asking them why they should not be blacklisted for violating parking space norms.

Written by MANOJ MORE | Pune |
June 8, 2009 2:04:17 am

Officials of the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation will on Monday hold a hearing with some builders issued show-cause notices asking them why they should not be blacklisted for violating parking space norms. The errant builders,the names of whom the civic administration refused to divulge,will have to put forth their defence regarding presence of shops in basements reserved for parking. Builders of both commercial and residential structures have come under the PCMC scanner.

Monday’s meeting is being described as a decisive phase in Municipal Commissioner Asheesh Sharma’s “war” on illegal constructions,especially misuse of parking space in Pimpri-Chinchwad. If builders are blacklisted by the civic administration,it will be the first such strong action in the history of the civic body,civic activists said. Officials said the builders to whom showcause notices were issued are from areas including Chinchwad,Wakad,Kasarwadi,Pimpri and Indrayani Nagar.

Though the Sharma administration has been putting on a brave front vis-a-vis action against builders,the hush-hush manner in which it is going on has raised many eyebrows. Its decision not to reveal the names of builders issued notices has drawn flak. But Sharma is unfazed. “We are conducting a probe against the builders against whom complaints have been made. If,after investigation,we come to the conclusion that a certain builder has violated the norm,we will publicise his name,” said Sharma,adding that genuine complaints against builders will be seriously looked into.

Sharma said not only will his administration hold the builder guilty,but action will also be initiated immediately. “If,during Monday’s enquiry,we find that any builder has violated norms by selling shops in the basement,I will immediately initiate demolition orders. And ensure that they are carried out in no time,” he said.

This,said Sharma,is urgently required as it will send a strong message that builders cannot violate rules. “It will surely have a ripple effect. Builders will be wary of selling parking space,” the commissioner said.

Citing a Bombay High Court judgement which rules that builders cannot sell parking space,Sharma said that in view of the order it has become all the more necessary to uphold the law. Domnic Lobo of the Common People’s Front said the Sharma administration need not even take recourse to the court order. Lobosaid,“Why refer to the HC order when the civic bye-laws stipulate that basements should be used only for parking and as storehouse?” “The civic officials are allowing builders to violate the rule. Over the years,the PCMC officials have allowed blatant violation of their own rules,” alleged Lobo. Citing an instance,Lobo said right in front of the PCMC headquarters,there are shops in the basement and the building belongs to the civic body itself.

“Despite our complaints for last three years,the civic administration has taken no action. Now,Sharma is talking of action. I don’t think he will act. He is trying to get publicity,” Lobo alleged.

Sanjeevani Pandey,another activist,said all big commercial complexes,including malls and theatres,along the Pune-Mumbai highway provide no parking space. “That is why people park along the highway and disrupt traffic. Who will act against these big people? Civic officials are in the pockets of big builders. There will be no action. It is all a show of sincerity by the Sharma administration.”

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