Vasco: Even as the State government is keen to regularise illegal houses on comunidade lands, the Sancoale Comunidade began the process to demolish around 64 structures in comunidade land behind the Birla police outpost at Sancoale and razed 18 of them on Wednesday.
The remaining 46 structures will be demolished on Thursday.
A large police force led by Verna PI Nelson Colaco was present as heavy machinery went about demolishing the structures. Officials from the mamlatdar and deputy collector offices were present to supervise the demolition drive.
Plea to secure stay order was denied
Incidentally, some house owners are reported to have approached the court to secure a stay on the demolition of their structures, but their plea was denied. Left with no option, the people did not offer any resistance to the demolition drive, but sought some time to remove their belongings.
According to Sancoale Comunidade President Pratap Mardolkar, those living in the illegal structures were warned in advance about the demolition. “We had been warning these people for many years even when there were around 32 illegal houses here because building a house on comunidade land is totally illegal. There are now 64 illegal houses in the area,” said Mardolkar.
“Despite our warnings, they ignored us and even made fun of us. They chose to ignore all warnings till the houses finally came for demolition on Wednesday morning. We hear that some person is involved in illegally selling this land to these people but we don’t have any concrete proof in this regard.”
“The drive will continue till all 64 structures are demolished,” he added. Mardolkar said the State government should also think of Comunidades and their shareholders, before making efforts to regularise illegal constructions on comunidade lands.
“There may have been certain amendments in the Comunidade Act but there is no provision of regularising illegal houses on comunidade land,” said Mardolkar. “The CM may have made a statement of coming with an amendment to regularise illegal houses, but it has to be enacted and the government may also face stiff opposition to such acts.”
Mardolkar said the Sancoale Comunidade had done a lot of follow up to reach the stage of demolishing the structures.
Row over illegal structures built on land
“We have had to struggle to save our own land and it is ironic that this decision to demolish structures has come after 64 structures have been illegally built here and it could have been done long ago when there were only two illegal structures in the area,” said Mardolkar.
Appealing to people to think carefully before building structures on comunidade land, Mardolkar said people have to change their mindset that houses on comunidade land will never be demolished.
“We appeal to the Electricity and PWD Water departments not to issue any connections because it will only encourage these people and put them in further trouble while also causing hardships to us,” said Mardolkar.
Sancoale Comunidade Attorney Jayesh Fadte said when the Comunidade committee had advised people not to encroach on comunidade land, the people had hurled abuses and even tried to assault them.
“We then took police protection to survey the land and we realised that there are 64 structures in the area,” said Fadte.