Twenty years after they purchased plots and built homes for themselves, taking approvals from government authorities, the 30 members of the Sai Shrdha Cooperative Housing Society in Pisoli are living in fear of their houses being razed down, thanks to a confusion created by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and the Town Planning department of the state government.
Everything was fine until two of the society members — Narayane and Farooq Usman Sheikh — approached the Town Planning department in 2014, seeking permission for the development of their plots. The permission was withheld on the grounds that the plots were located on the land that was part of a proposed 24-metre-wide road. This road, if developed, would cut right through the society that has been in existence for the last several years.
“We were hearing this for the first time. The plots where we built our homes had been approved by the PMC as well as the Town Planning department. We have all the necessary documents. We even have completion certificates of our houses,” Dileep Lathi, chairman of the society, told The Indian Express.
All the papers were submitted to the Town Planning department, but it was not convinced. Meanwhile, other members of the society also went into panic, fearing they could lose their houses. They all submitted a memorandum to the office of the chief minister in Mumbai, but are yet to get any response.
“The society was caught unawares and the members have since been disturbed. The society has approached the chief minister’s office on the issue, but nothing has been done to safeguard our rights to live in the plots of the housing society,” Lathi said. The genesis of the confusion lies in the years when Pisoli village was put within the jurisdiction of the PMC. The society was registered in 1996 when Pisoli village was included within the boundaries of the PMC. It remained part of PMC areas till 2005, when it was again deleted from the civic limits following objections from villagers.
When the society was within the civic limits, the layout plan of the society was approved by the PMC in 1999. This layout showed the 24-metre-wide road towards the south of the society, and land was allotted for the construction of this road. Accordingly, the PMC had given permission for development of plots in 1999.
The district collectorate had granted non-agricultural status to the layout plan in 2001, making it fit for development of a residential colony. The members of the society had taken housing loans from nationalised banks to develop the plot, and 22 of the 30 plot owners were given permission for development by the Town Planning department.
However, a fresh survey was carried out by the Town Planning department in 2015, after the PMRDA came into existence. In this survey, the 24-metre road was shown to be passing through the society land. “The proposed road is affecting at least 10 plots of the society, many of which are already developed with all required permissions,” Lathi said.
Last year, the Town Planning department acknowledged that there seemed to be a discrepancy in the two maps of the area prepared by the PMC and itself. But it said it could not grant permissions for fresh development of the plots till the matter was resolved. Moreover, a third agency, the PMRDA, had come into the picture in the meanwhile. The Town Planning department maintains that the matter has to be resolved by the PMRDA and accordingly have advised the society members to approach the authority.
The PMRDA says it will try to find a solution. “I am not aware of this specific issue but will take it up on a priority basis. We will soon hold a meeting with the society representatives and try to come out with best possible solution,” said Gundappa Thonte, assistant town planner of the PMRDA.
Meanwhile, the society members are extremely anxious, even though they have not heard anything adverse from the Town Planning department or the PMRDA. “The reluctance of permission to two plots for development has created a fear among the members of entire society that they might be made homeless,” Lathi said.