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HindustanTimes Tue,29 Jul 2014

Can Chavan break babu-builder-neta nexus?

Shailesh Gaikwad, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, April 06, 2013
First Published: 01:11 IST(6/4/2013) | Last Updated: 01:12 IST(6/4/2013)

As the Mumbra building collapse incident, one of the worst in the state’s history, makes headlines, the usual blame game has begun, with the politicians blaming each other or the administration.

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Once again, promises have been made by the government that it will not tolerate such lawlessness. Soon, however, they will be forgotten.

The incident that took place in Mumbra was shocking, but not unexpected. It was a disaster waiting to happen. And this could have been anywhere in the Thane district — Mumbra-Kalwa, Kalyan-Dombivli, Bhiwandi, Mira-Bhayander or Vasai-Virar.

Over the past two decades, these areas have witnessed unprecedented real estate development since they are close to Mumbai.

Those working in the financial capital but unable to afford houses in the city chose to buy and rent properties in these areas. The high demand for houses, complex rules for building construction and availability of land gave birth to an unholy nexus of builders, politicians and local administration officials.

The greed for profit further led to land grab, inferior-quality construction and even defrauding of buyers.

The influence of the real estate mafia can be understood by looking at elected representatives at various levels. A majority of them have direct or indirect connection to the real estate industry.

Little wonder then that there was no check on quality, no accountability and none of the authorities bothered to stop the mafia.

A couple of probe panels appointed by the government had even nailed the politicians and bureaucrats responsible for illegal structures, but no action was taken.

Suburbs like Kalwa-Mumbra, Mira-Bhayander and Vasai-Virar have thousands of illegal, inferior-quality buildings.

CM Prithviraj Chavan has now announced a probe into the Thursday’s incident, but will the real culprits be punished? No government or successive CMs have dared to take stern action against bureaucrats or politicians responsible for illegal constructions.

Unless that happens, no one will stop building structures illegally.

Chavan also wants to redevelop such dangerous buildings through a cluster development model. Is there a guarantee the new plan will not end up in the hands of the politician-builder-bureaucrat nexus as another money-making opportunity?


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