Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on Saturday said the aim of his party’s agitation was not to torch autorickshaws, but highlight the issue of auto permits. He said he had not withdrawn the agitation, but it will not be carried out until new autorickshaws come out on the roads. He also assailed the state government for its decision to regularise approximately two lakh illegal constructions in the state built before December 31, describing it as a step to favour the builders’ lobby.
Addressing the media at Nashik, Thackeray said he has not withdrawn the agitation launched on Wednesday, where he urged his workers to burn new autorickshaws. “We are against autorickshaw permits being given to ‘outsiders’, but there is no point doing it until new autorickshaws ply on roads. The government has still to issue new permits,” he said.
Thackeray alleged the government’s decision to regualrise illegal structures was made after builders met chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. “The chief minister should have first penalised the builders and officials, who allowed such buildings to come up in the first place. Instead, a convenient setting between the government and builders took place. Where are the norms to regularise such structures?” said Thackeray. “There is no doubt the buyers who were cheated should get relief, but why are the builders allowed to go scot free,” he said, adding the step was tailor-made for the civic polls.
The BJP called Thackeray’s accusations unfounded and said the government aims to protect the interests of the residents of such illegal buildings. “The move will benefit approximately 25,000 such housing societies out of the total 30,825, which is a big relief for those flat owners,” said Mumbai BJP President Ashish Shelar. Shelar dismissed accusations that the decision was taken to help the builders lobby. “There are various parts of the state like Thane, Diva and Navi Mumbai where builders have handed over the flats and exited leaving the hapless residents to fend for themselves. This decision will help these flat owners,” he added. Fadnavis said only those constructions that have violated the rules within the permissible limits would be regularised/ “We have also apprised the high court about the decision, where cases related to the illegal buildings are pending,” he said.