With the state government issuing draft rules last week to regularise illegal constructions, lakhs of illegal structures across Maharashtra, primarily including those in Pimpri-Chinchwad and in Pune city, will get a breather. While the government’s move has been welcomed by political parties — BJP especially is most ecstatic — top leaders and civic officials are holding themselves back for studying the fine print of the draft rules before sticking their neck out.
In Pimpri-Chinchwad, the government will have to decide the fate of as many as 26,000 illegal structures that come up on reserved land. Illegal structures dot every length and breadth of the town. BJP had made it the top of its poll agenda both during state and civic polls. “BJP has kept its poll promise to the residents of Pimpri-Chinchwad,” said BJP MLA Laxman Jagtap, who is also the party’s local unit president. BJP general secretary Sarang Kamtekar said there were at least around 1.5 lakh illegal structures in Pimpri-Chinchwad which were going to be regularised. PCMC officials, however, put the figure of illegal structures at around 65,000.
On Friday, the state urban development department, headed by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, issued draft rules to regularise illegal structures across the state which came up by December 31, 2015. The government has invited suggestions and objections on the draft rules in a month. The draft rules envisage regularisation of illegal structures that have come up on land reserved for public amenities other than for schools, gardens and playgrounds. In such cases, those who set up illegal structures will have to provide an alternative land at their expense.
In Pimpri-Chinchwad, there are over 26,000 illegal structures that have come up on land reserved for schools, gardens, playgrounds and other purposes. Civic officials say this means that thousands of illegal structures will not be legalised and will have to be demolished. “The government will have to take a call on such structures,” said an official. However, BJP leaders said, of the 26,000 illegal structures on reserved land, slums occupy the large chunk on open spaces. “As per the norms, the slum dwellers will have to be rehabilitated elsewhere under the Slum Rehabilitation Act,” said Kamtekar, who got the figure — 26,000 illegal structures on reserved land — through an RTI application.
BJP leaders believe that there is a possibility that the illegal structures that have come up on land reserved for schools and gardens will get regularised. The process of formulation of the new development plan for Pimpri-Chinchwad is under way. The tenders for existing land use (ELU) have been invited. Once the private agency submits the ELU report, during the preparation of the revised DP, there is always the possibility of shifting the reservation concerned where illegal structures have come up,” said Kamtekar.
Civic activist Vijay Kumbhar said, “Under any condition, the government or the civic bodies will not be able to regularise illegal constructions on land reserved for schools and gardens. This is because there is a Supreme Court ruling in Manohar Joshi case barring any regularisation on land reserved for public amenities like schools.
Senior PCMC officials, on condition of anonymity, question the move on providing alternative land by those who have built illegal structures on reserved land. “Suppose a building has come up on a one-acre reserved land. This means the occupants of such illegal buildings will have to provide one acre land at some other place. Imagine the current cost at which they will have to purchase the land…this does not sound practical,” said an official.
BJP leaders, however, said this falls under the category of “accommodation reservation.” “The occupants will have to pay only 15 per cent cost of the built up area on the land…they do not have to pay for the entire land,” they said.
NCP, the main opposition party, said though they welcomed the move to regularise the illegal structures, they needed time to study the draft rules. “Last time, the CM promised to waive penalty tax fully. However, they have decided to recover Rs 550 crore penalty tax from the citizens. They say one thing and do exactly the opposite. Unless we get the full picture, we won’t like to give it a green signal,” said NCP leader Yogesh Behl.
Shiv Sena BJP Shrirang Barne said, “It was a long welcome move, but I too wouldn’t like to comment much until I am able to understand as to how many citizens will benefit by the move.”
In case where the occupants have violated FSI norm, they will have to pay compounding charges, say the draft rules. Similarly, the rules envisage compounding fees for violations in connection with parking space, staircase and other parts of the structures. Another Sena leader, Maruti Bhapkar, said the compounding fee levied for regularising the illegal structures should be minimal. “Therefore, the idea that occupants should provide alternative land sounds weird,” he said.