The state government has decided to clamp down on encroachments and unathorised constructions by arming the civic bodies with a dedicated police force. Special courts will also be set up to try municipal offences to fast-track the judicial process.
An affidavit filed in the Bombay high court by state deputy secretary Prabhakar Pawar states that the government has taken a decision to establish a special police cell for registering and investigating municipal offences.
Pawar admitted there are a large number of encroachments on MIDC and forest land in Thane district, and said the authorities have been asked to curtail them.
The affidavit was filed following the court’s direction on a public interest litigation filed by an NGO, Harit Vasai Sanrakshan Samiti, which raised concern over thousands of illegal structures and encroachments in the VasaiVirar belt.
The court had expanded the scope of the petition to the entire Thane district.
The affidavit states all local and statutory bodies have formed special squads in Thane at their headquarters, as well as at the ward level, where citizens can lodge complaints.
Pawar said a high-powered committee has issued directions to implement cluster and township development projects, and various housing schemes for eligible encroachers.
He added that the collector has been asked to identify open lands which can be used to provide alternate accommodation, while MIDC, the forest department and CIDCO have been directed to devise comprehensive policies to check encroachments.
Pawar said various directions have been issued by the chief secretary following the committee’s last meeting on May 14.
They include preparing location-wise and time-bound plans for removal of encroachments with the cooperation of police and earmarking a budget for the exercise.
The court had said during the last hearing in April that two years have lapsed since the petition was filed, and the court be appraised of the ground situation of the unauthorised constructions and the status of cases in the trial court before the next hearing on Friday.