The Bombay High Court on Wednesday rapped the state government for its ‘casual approach’ towards the over 5 lakh illegal constructions in Thane district, and for failing to act against them.
However, the court was pleased to hear that Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) had launched a prosecution against four municipal councils — Vasai Municipal Council, Navghar and Manikpur Municipal Council, Nallasopara Municipal Council and Virar Municipal Council — for disposing their waste in Vasai creek in Thane district without treating it.
The division bench of Justices J.N. Patel and K.K. Tated has constituted a high-level committee to be headed by Chief Secretary Johny Joseph which has been asked to come up with solution for illegal encroachment in six months. “It is because of the lack of political will that things have come to this stage. We have been dealing with this problem since 2006,” said Justice Patel.
Additional government pleader Nitin Deshpande told the court that they were contemplating an amendment to the Municipal Councils Act and the Mumbai Region Town Planning Act to take stringent action against unauthorised constructions.
“Why don’t you then book them under the MCOCA because even in such cases organised crime syndicates are involved,” said Justice Patel.
The high court has asked the government to crack down on illegal constructions, beginning with the formation of the high level committee.
The other members of the high power committee are principal secretaries of urban development department, revenue, rural development department and finance, also director of municipal administration and divisional commissioner (Konkan) and also secretaries of energy, environment and relief and rehabilitation.
The committee has been directed to conduct its first meeting within a week and file preliminary report in a month. “If the deadline is not met, then the high court will be forced to pass further orders in the matter,” observed the bench.
The high court has asked the Thane CJM to expedite the trial and conclude it preferably within six months.