Real-time solution: Google being used to trace illegal units

Mumbai: Taking note of the rampant illegal constructions across Maharashtra, the Bombay High Court on Thursday sought to know if any mechanism, which gives a real-time update of unauthorised constructions, can be created with the help of technology.

The court raised the query after it was informed that the government was using Google images to keep tabs on illegal structures. A division bench of Acting Chief Justice (ACJ) Naresh Patil and Justice Girish Kulkarni said, “Buildings are being constructed day-in and day-out and they are suddenly declared illegal, especially when people start inhabiting them. Then, citizens rush to this court seeking urgent hearings. We must put an end to such panic situations.”

“Is it possible to come up with a mechanism that can provide real-time updates on illegal structures? This system, if used, can be helpful to put an end to such constructions,” ACJ Patil pointed out.The suggestion was made in response to submissions of Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhkoni, who informed the bench that the government has been using Google images to trace illegal structures. “A Government Resolution (GR) issued in May 2016 appointed an officer, who has been tasked to trace illegal structures across the state using Geographic Information System (GIS). The system will only show legally sanctioned structures and the same can be used to trace illegal constructions,” AG Kumbhkoni submitted.

The AG further submitted that the designated officer is bound to carry out the exercise, every six months. “The exercise is presently being carried out in 170 cities in the state. In some cities, the work has been completed while in some the work is at an advanced stage. We have decided to use this technique in 370 cities,” AG said.Having heard the submissions of AG Kumbhkoni, the bench asked the government to submit a report stating the progress of this task, which it claims to have been carrying out since 2016. The bench was seized with a petition filed by a housing society seeking directions to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to demolish illegal structures that had been constructed in its premises.

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