While on the one hand the civic and CIDCO officials claim that they will keep an eagle eye on unauthorized constructions, the land mafia appears to be flourishing without any fear of the law.
Adivashi has pointed out time and again the menace of unauthorized constructions across Navi Mumbai. It is shocking that even now as many as 100 buildings are under construction without any permission, officials admit. This is in addition to the mushrooming of slums by the day.
NMMC has already targeted 230 structures for demolition under its jurisdiction after listing them on its web site, while CIDCO too said it will be strict. Strong words are yet to result in any action. Illegal construction is rampant in Kopar Kairane, Ju Gaon, Kopri, Ghansoli, Airoli, Nerul, Karave, Shiravane, Sarsole and so on.
It is quite possible that the land mafia is encouraged by an all-round official promise that the unauthorized structures will be redeveloped under cluster development. But will the new structures be covered under this? There is no clarity on this since the government has not announced any cut-off date for redevelopment, unlike in slum rehabilitation scheme.
With the unauthorized structures becoming affordable at Rs 9 lakh for a 1 BHK house – as against Rs 45 lakh in CIDCO developed nodes – they will only be on the rise.
Some of these so-called unauthorized builders, however, say the structures are need-based. “It is our village, our property and we are constructing since CIDCO has not given us the benefit of the 12.5% scheme,” says Pramod Patil, a Ju Gaon-based builder-contractor.
Patil and many others are confident that nothing will happen to their structures. But the fact remains that the buyers of such do run the risk of facing the NMMC hammer whenever the civic body acts.
Adivashi would recall that the construction of Lok Manya Tilak Terminus at Kura was held up for years by a shanty. Ditto is the case of Panvel Railway junction complex. But now, slum dwellers in Panvel, who have been blocking the development of the railway junction complex, may soon go as they are promised pucca houses. Under Rajiv Gandhi Awas Yojana, the centre will grant 75%, the State 15% and Pune Municipal Council the remaining 10% towards the estimated cost of construction of Rs 4 lakh for each house. Slums built before 1995 will be eligible for the rehabilitation.
The railway authorities will heave of sigh of relief only when they will see the open land reserved for the junction.
Talking of rehabilitation of project affected, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan appealed to the Navi Mumbai International Airport Notified Area to accept the package offered by CIDCO and facilitate early start on the much needed infrastructure project. He pointed out to them that the developed land that they will get will fetch much more than the cash that their leaders have been asking for. Land prices will appreciate as the airport takes off, he said.
Many may blame the UPA government for its indecision and policy paralysis. But as far as the Navi Mumbai airport is concerned, PM Manmohan Singh has called for a meeting with the CM and NCP chief Sharad Pawar to “decide” on the course of action. Chavan is hopeful that all hurdles will be cleared at the meeting with the PM.
As Ulwe witnesses a massive construction, the upcoming node can now boast of a grand sports facility – Ramsheth Thakur International Sports Complex. With a host of indoor and outdoor game facilities, the complex offers membership at affordable rates – starting from Rs 5,000 for students. This facility comes as a big boon for people in Panvel-Ulwe stretch.
An usual case of a school building springing up on a plot meant for gas cylinder godown at Ghansoli has raised many an eyebrow. What is more the school building hosts a call centre too.
NMMC has not allowed any change of use for the plot, yet a school building has come up here, says civic education committee member Prashant Patil who demanded immediate action against those responsible for the unauthorized school.
Bidding good bye harrowing longish queues for admissions, the most sought after Fr Agnel Multipurpose School at Vashi has gone online for admissions for Nursery classes for the next academic year. It received 900 requests – three times the seat capacity. The school has already started talking to the applicants’ parents and the student selection will be done by lottery. Hope other schools will follow suit.

This is the 47th in a series on Navi Mumbai by veteran media professional B N Kumar, a long-time resident of Mumbai’s twin city. He can be contacted at: mailbnk@gmail.com

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