The Bombay high court has asked the State government and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to find a permanent solution to protect the Versova beach from illegal structures which harbours activities like drug peddling and prostitution, making it unsafe for common man. Besides, an unguarded beach poses a threat to national security due to its proximity to hostile nations.
A division bench of justices Amjad Sayed and Abhay Ahuja was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Ameet Satam, BJP MLA from Andheri, through advocate Prahlad Paranjape, seeking directions to the state government, BMC and the police for maintenance and upkeep of the beach and having a 24X7 surveillance at the beach for security purpose.
“These illegal structures breed graver problems such as drug peddling and prostitution in the shanties at night and in the vicinity of the area around the beach making the beach an unsafe for common citizens,” reads the plea.
During the hearing, Justice Sayed asked the government to find a permanent solution since the petitioner has been repeatedly raising the grievance since 2014.
Additional government pleader Poornima Kantharia said that she would take instructions and file an affidavit within a week.
According to the PIL, in December 2014 Satam had sent a letter to the Chief Minister pointing out the illegal encroachments, drug peddling and prostitution going on in and around the Versova beach and sough that necessary action be taken.
The illegal shanties were demolished in September 2015. However, they keep mushrooming regularly.
Satam had written a letter, in October 2015, to the Commissioner of Police (CP) and ACP and DCP of Zone 9 highlighting the threat to national security due to proximity to hostile ports from the secluded beach.
Seeking a permanent surveillance, the plea reads: “Because of the proximity to hostile nations, it is imperative to establish a permanent surveillance station on the beach which is manned for 24 hours by trained police personnel.”
The plea seeks that the CP be directed to “set up surveillance operations on the beach to neutralise the security threat at the beach front”.
Also, a Beach Monitoring Committee be constituted comprising citizens, elected representatives, police machinery, and the BMC to permanently monitor the situation at the beach and submit reports to concerned authorities.
Apart from illuminating the beach with sufficient street lights, the plea seeks installation of CCTV cameras.
Seeking fencing of the mangroves near the beach, the plea states that there is inadequate fencing because of which there have been instances of mangroves burning.
To keep the beach clean and protected, the plea suggests that the authorities can hold a week-long beach festival in the month of January.
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