Everybody knows there's political interference when action is to be taken against illegal buildings, Thane municipal commissioner RA Rajeev said on Tuesday. But Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) is now aggressively cracking down on all unauthorised structures. Excerpts from the interview:
Questions are being raised about why the TMC and you have failed to take action against the illegal building in Mumbra, which collapsed.
I had received one complaint on March 18 about the building. As is practice, I forwarded it to the local ward office as the allegations had to be verified. Then, there was the issue of jurisdiction as the land was under the forest department, so there were limitations to what action we could take.
Don't you agree that illegal structures can't be built without the consent of local civic officers?
I have been saying this for some time and have taken action in some cases. Developers build such structures in collusion with local officials.
What are you doing to prevent such incidents in the future? Are you taking action against officers responsible for illegal buildings?
We have started a large-scale drive against illegal constructions. Today, we demolished six to seven illegal buildings. Those guilty of allowing such structures to come up will face action as per law. But that by itself will not provide the answer, considering the atmosphere in which our officers work.
Are you hinting at political interference?
Everybody knows about it. We have faced pressure for taking action. Efforts were made to demoralise us. I cannot reveal names of parties or persons. At present, there is no political pressure and we are taking action against illegal structures.
Did TMC ignore illegal constructions in Mumbra because of political pressure?
You can't say that. Recently, we conducted a special drive in Diva and demolished illegal structures, seized machines and construction materials. In areas such as Mumbra, illegal floors are being added to existing structures, and we are taking action.