Mumbai: The Bombay High Court recently took cognizance of the rampant illegal construction being carried out near the Tansa pipeline, which is considered to be one of the major water supplying pipelines for Mumbai. The HC accordingly directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to pull down all the illegal structures, which are ‘reconstructed’ even after being demolished by the civic body.
Interestingly, the HC had issued directions for the demolition of hundreds of illegal slums constructed along side the Tansa pipeline, way back in 2006, citing security issues. And since then, the civic body has failed to initiate action against all the illegal structures and is still struggling to rehabilitate the encroachers.
The recent orders were passed by a division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Riyaz Chagla recently while hearing a writ petition filed by Mohammed Asim Haji Mohammed. The petition claimed that several illegal huts were re-constructed even after being demolished earlier by the civic body. The judges after admitting the petition, had directed the Assistant Engineer (Maintenance) L Ward, Kurla, to file an affidavit responding to the petition.
Pursuant to the orders, the Engineer filed an affidavit and annexed photographs of the site. Having perused the affidavit, Justice Oka said, “Prima facie it appears to us that there is a merit in the contention of the Petitioners that the persons whose structures were partially demolished for implementing the orders of this Court have reconstructed the demolished portions of the structures.”
The judges noted that a wall has been constructed by the BMC after its earlier demolition drive, to ensure that no encroachment is made within the distance of 10 meters from the main pipeline. The judges further noted that no structures were constructed beyond the compound wall.
Justice Oka said, “In the affidavit filed by the BMC, there is a vague assurance to take actions. It is an admitted position that the persons who have been allotted the alternate accommodations have indulged in reconstruction of the demolished structures without permission of the civic body. We therefore, direct the BMC to initiate immediate action of demolition in relation to the said structures.”
“If the civic body finds that in lieu of the demolished portion of the structures, the persons concerned have been allotted alternate accommodation, even an action of cancellation of the allotment of alternate accommodation shall be taken after following the due process of law. We make it clear that the action will have to be initiated immediately,” Justice Oka added.
Justice Oka further said that if the BMC fails to take immediate action in respect of the reconstruction of demolished structures, there is every possibility that this inaction will encourage others to take such illegal steps. The judges accordingly directed L Ward’s Deputy Municipal Commissioner to undertake corrective steps immediately and file an affidavit regarding the same by June 8. The matter is likely to be heard on June 15.