For 19 years after he bought two houses in 1988 in Lonavla, jeweller Kishore Jain used to drive down to the getaway for his weekly dose of quiet and peace.
All that changed in 2007.
Now, Jain is busy fighting to save Lonavla from land sharks.
In 2007, Jain noticed that two row houses, right opposite his, had been bought by a hotel.
Jain filed an RTI query in February 2007, which revealed that the hotel didn’t have the requisite permission to function as it was in a residential zone.
He lodged a complaint with the Lonavla Municipal Council (LMC) but no action was taken.
A legal battle followed. The local Vadgaon court in July 2007passed an order directing the Lonavla Municipal Council to demolish the hotel. Nothing happened.
Next was Pune’s District Court, which upheld the demolition in July 2008. Despite the orders, the hotel continued to function.
In 2009, the hotel expanded, taking over another bungalow, next to Jain’s house.
“About 20 people came on bikes, threatened me and asked me to withdraw the complaints. That’s when I decided that this fight was going to be one with a logical finish.”
Jain filed a writ petition in the Bombay High Court in April 2009.
The Bombay High Court last month ordered that the state contemplate superseding the Lonavla Municipal Council (LMC).
Jain’s initiative has also led to the closure and sealing of 13 more such illegally operating hotels in Lonavla.
The HC then directed the LMC to demolish the hotel and ensuring that all commercial activities are stopped.
“The LMC lied to the court saying that the hotels had shut,” said Jain.
Jain sent some of his friends to stay in the hotel.
“I had to submit proof to the court and had only a week to do that.”
Yogesh Godse, chief officer of LMC, agrees that the LMC goofed up.
“We believed the hotel when they said that they had shut down. That’s our mistake. We didn’t cross-check.”
The LMC then demolished parts of the hotel and sealed it.
“An extension of the hotel is still functioning and the LMC says its legal. I’m tired of fighting but I can’t even see myself giving up,” Jain said.