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729 illegal shrines to go

The civic body has prepared a list of 729 illegal shrines in the city and suburbs that it will have to demolish if they are built after 1964.

mumbai Updated: Jan 12, 2011 01:46 IST
Sujit Mahamulkar

The civic body has prepared a list of 729 illegal shrines in the city and suburbs that it will have to demolish if they are built after 1964.

The civic body will soon start sending notices to caretakers of these shrines (temples, mosques and other places of prayer) asking why the religious structures should not be demolished.

The action is being taken as a result of Supreme Court directives in an interim order on December 7, 2009. The state government, on October 4, 2010, issued a notification asking all municipal bodies to take action on illegal shrines and submit a compliance report on the same.

Accordingly, the BMC began its action in November 2010 by conducting a ward-wise survey of illegal shrines. The survey is now completed and the number of such shrines is fixed at 729.

“The civic body will now issue show-cause notices to all 729 illegal shrines and if they obstruct projects like road-widening or affect vehicular traffic or are located on the land required for public services or projects, the structures will be demolished,” said a senior civic official on the condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

He also said that structures built before 1964 (the cut-off year for such structures) would not be touched. “The caretaker or owner of the religious structure would have to submit all related documents to the concerned ward office,” he added.

In a meeting of heads of various civic departments on November 9, 2010, then municipal commissioner Swadheen Kshatriya had instructed all assistant municipal commissioners to survey unauthorised shrines and submit a report.

Meanwhile, the law department has prepared a draft of the show-cause notices to be issued to all wards soon. “If the shrine is illegal and obstructs the road or pavement it should be remove,” said Gyanmurti Sharma, chairman of the civic law committee.

Janhit Manch, an NGO, had moved the high court asking for illegal shrines to be demolished as many of them obstructed development work. The NGO felt the structures were an obstruction to the public. So, in 2002, the NGO went to court asking for their demolition.

One year later (in 2003), the court ordered that all illegal shrines like temples, mosques or churches, be demolished. Following the court order the civic body submitted an affidavit to the court saying it had demolished about 1,100 shrines.

On September 27, 2009, the SC had ordered there should be no unauthorised religious structures on roads, pavements or other public places, as they were an inconvenience to people.