Even as the controversy over destruction of mangroves to extend actor Kapil Sharma’s bungalow at Maharashtra Housing and Development Authority (MHADA) layout at Sardar Vallabhai Patel Nagar in Andheri (West) continues, similar violations have been reportedly carried out at another property in the area – which has Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Narendra Varma as its trustee.
The Andheri tehsil (local revenue) office had sent a letter to the K-west ward of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in May asking them to issue a notice to the authorities of the Jankidevi Public School under the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning (MRTP) Act. Sharma’s bungalow and the school are both located on Jankidevi Public School road. While the forest department pointed out how bungalow owners, including Sharma, destroyed mangroves, the school authorities also committed irregularities by constructing a road within 50m of mangroves, according to the letter, a copy of which is with HT.
Civic officials said they are waiting for the decision on the case, which is being heard by the Lokayukta. Varma said, “After the letter was issued in May, detailed inspections were carried out, where the various authorities presented their positive report in front of Lokayukta, as he had taken suo motu cognisance. In various hearings, the authorities said there was no destruction of mangroves. The HC order has not been violated as there is no construction of a structure within 50m of mangroves and only paver blocks have been placed to avoid dust and muck. The HC had also allowed construction for a few housing properties and our plot is one of those. We have got a stay from the city civil court in this matter against all notices issued by various authorities.”
The tehsil office, in its letter, said 50m of the road belonging to the school, which is being used by the authorities to park buses, was within mangroves, which is a violation of the high court order. In 2005, the Bombay high court banned all construction within 50m of mangroves.
An inspection was conducted by mangroves cell officials of the forest department in May, where they confirmed the construction had violated the HC order. The Versova police registered a first information report in May, but the BMC is yet to take action.
Parag Masurkar, assistant municipal commissioner of K-west ward, said, “The complaint is being heard by Lokayukta and the BMC has answered all questions. We are waiting for his directives, after which action will be initiated.”
Activists asked if the civic body can take action against an actor, why are they sparing the school. Vivekanand Gupta, BJP Mumbai secretary and complainant in this case, said, “The civic body should take immediate action. The ward officer is busy siding with a politician and so has not demolished the road in spite of complaints.”