The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has informed that out of 726 illegal shrines accounted for from all wards under its purview, 666 structures are yet to be demolished.
In 2010, a resolution was passed, calling for a demolition drive of illegal shrines. However, due to strong resistance from locals, the government had issued another subsequent resolution in March 2011 seeking to stop the action initiated under the 2010 resolution, states a recent affidavit filed by Vijayanand Bole, assistant commissioner (removal of encroachment). Following this, the BMC issued a circular on March 18, 2011 stopping the demolition drive.
The affidavit was filed in response to a public interest litigation filed by Janhit Manch, which had been pursuing the matter since 2003, following which around 1,300 illegal shrines were demolished.
According to petitioner Bhagwanji Rayani, the Supreme Court is likely to soon pass an order on the issue.
According to the affidavit, on May 5, 2011 the government had passed a resolution regarding directives to prepare an action plan in respect of demolition, shifting and regularisation of illegal shrines, whereby unauthorised shrines will be categorised according to the action plan. The action plan was delayed due to election work, the affidavit adds.
Bole also states that police protection will be necessary once the demolition drive resumes.
The corporation states that the development and planning department needs to communicate their remarks for regularisation and shifting of the illegal shrines.
According to the affidavit, they have identified around 102 shrines for regularisation and 43 which can be shifted. 360 of them are to be demolished.
The court had, in September 2003, ordered the demolition of illegal shrines and unauthorised religious structures on roads, near railway tracks and public property.
The petitioner had claimed that although illegal structures were being demolished, there was no machinery to prevent their re-construction. The court then directed the BMC to ensure that such structures do not crop up again.