The apathy of two government agencies has cost Mumbai another open space – a 4,500-square-foot plot at a prime location in Charkop, Kandivli (West). The plot, adjacent to residential buildings Siddhatek and Minakshi in Sector 6, is large enough for a jogging track or a playground but has been taken over by two unauthorised godown-like structures in the past two months.
The Charkop RDP-7 Residents Welfare Association has sent a written complaint about the encroachment to the local ward office, but no action has been taken as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and Maharashtra Housing and Development Authority (Mhada) have been passing the buck, claiming certain documents need to be verified first. Residents allege that the BMC and Mhada are deliberately causing delays to give the encroacher enough time to forge documents and prove the godowns are legal.
Ajit Suryavanshi, a member of the residents association, said, “Suddenly, two godown-like structures have come up on the vacant plot. This is not the first time encroachment has taken place here. In 2013, similar structures were built by someone. After we complained to the BMC, the structures were demolished.”
He added, “This time we again complained to the ward office but they have not taken any action. Next to the plot is a nullah and mangroves. There are chances of encroachment there as well if these structures are not removed.”
A senior BMC official, who did not wish to be named, said, “This plot is a recreational ground (RG) according to the BMC’s 1991 development plan and is meant for a Mhada layout. So the land record is with available with Mhada. The encroachers have political connections, through which they are pressuring the BMC and Mhada.”
Kishor Gandhi, assistant municipal commissioner, R-central ward (Borivli), said, “We demolished structures there in 2013 but the encroacher has appeal against the action in the sessions court. The court has directed Mhada and BMC to check the structures’ legality. We are awaiting papers from Mhada. Once they submit all the papers of the concerned plot, we will decide what action to take. We have written to Mhada’s chief executive officer to speed up the process.”
In the past month, Gandhi and Ashok Khaire, deputy municipal commissioner, zone 7, have written to Mhada asking it to submit the papers as soon as possible, but in vain.
Bhimrao Kale, an executive engineer with Mhada, said, “We are verifying the complaint and checking the records. The structure is illegal as it has come up recently. I will be able to send the complete report by next week.”