Refusing to give in to the demands of legislators across party lines, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, on Wednesday, said that there will be no stay on the demolition of illegal buildings declared dangerous in Thane.
The residents of these buildings, however, will be offered an alternative accommodation in rental homes in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
“It will be wrong to stop demolition of dangerous illegal buildings, as an incident like Mumbra can occur again. Who will take the responsibility then,” asked Chavan.
Replying to a calling-attention motion moved by legislators from the Opposition, Chavan said that the authorities were checking the feasibility of an alternative arrangement for residents of the 57 extremely dangerous in 3,700 rental homes constructed under the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority's (MMRDA) rental housing scheme.
He also said that illegal buildings in Thane and the MMR will now be included under the cluster redevelopment model. “In the long term, we are looking at a common cluster redevelopment policy for the entire MMR. We are looking at practical realities from a humane point of view. We will bring illegal buildings under the policy,” said Chavan.
The state government will have to amend the Maharashtra Region and Town Planning Act to introduce development control rules for such a policy, he said.
The existing cluster redevelopment scheme under the development control rule 33 (9) applicable in Mumbai allows an incentive Floor Space Index (FSI) of 4 to ensure integrated development of a locality. However, none of the cluster projects in Mumbai have taken off so far. The government is reviewing the policy to make it more viable. A report on the same has been submitted to the government recently.
Chavan said that changes to the city’s cluster redevelopment scheme would be announced first, after which a separate policy for the MMR would be drafted. He said they are yet to decide whether an FSI of 4 would be offered under the scheme for MMR.
Creating huge stock of transit accommodation is the other option being looked at.
But, the long-term options being considered by the state are unlikely to take off anytime soon.
The short-term solution of shifting residents of illegal buildings to rental homes, too, has several hurdles. Chavan said that the modalities of the transfer would be decided by the Thane municipal commissioner.
The state government will have to check the availability of rental homes ready for occupation, the rents and other details of leave and licence agreements.
Thane NGO moves HC
Dayanand Nene, president of NGO Alert Citizens of Thane, has moved the Bombay high court demanding that the Thursday bandh be declared illegal.
Nene said, “When the Mumbra incident occurred, politicians blamed the Thane Municipal Corporation. Now while the civic body has taken up a demolition drive, they are protesting against it.”
“We want protection for civic officials who take part in the drive and action against political parties who participate in the bandh,” he said.
Inputs from Kiran Sonawane