Bombay High Court seeks details of action taken on illegal constructions near beaches in Alibaug

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has directed the Maharashtra government to submit the details of the action taken by it against the illegal private constructions along the beaches in Alibaug in Raigad district within two weeks. The directions of the court, hearing a petition filed by an activist, came after the government submitted that it had failed to demolish most of such structures due to pending litigation.

Several private parties have constructed residential bungalows, farmhouses and multi-storeyed houses in the said area, according to the petition. Fugitive jeweller Nirav Modi, who is wanted in the alleged multi-crore-rupee Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud, also has some illegal properties in the area.

On a previous occasion, the court had directed the state government to demolish or take other appropriate action against such illegal structures. In an order passed on November 29, a bench of Chief Justice Naresh Patil and Justice MS Karnik directed the state to submit the above details within two weeks.

The directions came after the government, in its response to the court’s query on the action taken so far, submitted that it had failed to demolish most of the illegal structures. Government counsel PB Kakade told the bench that the owners of most of the structures identified as illegal by the state authorities had moved various courts, challenging the state’s demolition notices.

“In most cases, there exist stay orders from various courts. Therefore, we have been unable to take any demolition or other punitive action against the illegal constructions,” Kakade said. At this, the bench directed the state authorities to submit the details of the action undertaken by them as well as the details of the illegal properties that had secured stay orders from courts and also the status of the pending cases.

“Also inform us of the action taken against those illegal properties whose status is not sub-judice,” the bench said. It was hearing a petition filed by activist Surendra Dhavale. The petitioner has sought the high court’s directions to the authorities concerned to demolish all unauthorised constructions located within “the low and high-tide areas” in many villages of Alibaug.

The petitioner has alleged that such constructions were carried out in violation of the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority rules and the land laws of the state government. According to the plea, around 175 private residences “belonging to several wealthy persons, including Nirav Modi and several businessmen and film actors,” fall under the CRZ (Coastal Regulatory Zone) areas in Varsoli, Sasvane, Kolgaon, and Dokvade villages in Alibaug taluka.

On a previous hearing, another bench of the court had directed the Konkan region divisional commissioner to initiate an inquiry to ascertain how the illegal structures were permitted to be constructed along the beaches in Alibaug. It had also directed the district and state authorities to take appropriate punitive action.

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