Information obtained through the Right to Information (RTI) Act revealed that the Mandi Municipal Council (MC) has not only turned a blind eye towards illegal and unauthorised constructions of a multi-storied building at the centuries-old religious places along the left bank of Beas river, but also allowed water and power connections to the building, which is being used at sarai (guest house) and banquet hall for the past more than two decades.
RTI activist Lawan Thakur filed the application two months ago.
In a reply to the RTI application, the Mandi MC has clearly mentioned that neither permission was granted nor required maps were approved for the construction of the building and it was not included in the illegal construction list that the MC submitted in the state high court.
On the basis of the MC list, the state high court ordered to demolish as many as 57 constructions on the government land recently in June and July, out of which nearly 30 people were poor safai karamcharis (sweepers) and they had no land in their name in the state.
A number of social activists and volunteer organisations had alleged that the MC had sheltered a number of illegal and unauthorised constructions of influenced people that includes shopping malls, posh residential colonies, hospitals and hotels in and around the town.
The RTI application has revealed the truth of Mandi MC's affidavit that the MC had submitted in the high court over declaring illegal constructions in the town in 2009.
The said five-storied illegal building is situated at the left bank of Beas river, where centuries-old 'ghats' (steps used for performing obeisance) along with historical Ekadas Rudra and Ram Lingam temples are situated.
The building has not only defaced, but also damaged the history of the town.
The MC had replied in its letter that the building was exempted from house tax, whereas the MC has never granted permission of construction.
The RTI applicant submitted it complaint to the Mandi deputy commissioner and informed the state high court about the undue favours of the Mandi MC towards the owner(s) of the building and demanded charging of house tax from the date when MC introduced house tax in the town area and demanded demolishing of the building like the MC razed small houses of poor recently.
The applicant also informed the pollution control board that the building owners were directly depositing waste water and toilet drainage into the Beas river and the act was a crime. The applicant also demanded to set up inquiry that how the irrigation-cum-public health (IPH) and electricity department issued water and power connections without approval of maps and requite permission of the construction of the building.