Upset with BMC chief Sitaram Kunte’s statement that Aarey Colony will have to be developed to protect it from Dharavi-like encroachment, political parties as well as activists have demanded his resignation.
“Aarey will get chipped off easily, if we don’t allow such development. Despite being designated as a no-development zone in the 1991 DP, it saw encroachments. Creating stakeholders is the only way to control illegal occupation of such spaces,” Kunte had said, on Thursday.
At the general body meeting on Friday, corporators across parties said preventing encroachment is the civic chief’s duty. “The statement by the commissioner is incorrect. He owes the elected representatives an explanation,” said mayor Snehal Ambekar said.
MNS group leader Sandeep Deshpande has written to Kunte, asking him to resign. He also raised the issue in the meeting, which was supported by all parties except the Congress. “The commissioner is not doing his job properly. It was his duty to take care of the encroachment in the city. If an officer who manages the city cannot control encroachment, he should resign,” said Deshpande.
Rishi Agarwal, an activist leading the Save Aarey Colony campaign, said, “It is a well-known fact that illegal hutments don’t come up without the support of local politicians, BMC and police officials. In such a situation, the commissioner’s statement is completely unacceptable.”
In its statement, Hamara Shehar Vikas Niyojan, an umbrella body of organisations campaigning for an inclusive DP, said, “The statement of the municipal commissioner equates it with something highly unwanted and undesirable. This view not only tends to negate the slums, but also refutes right of the poor to this city, at a deeper, much subtle level.”