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Shopkeepers clueless about demolition

mumbai Updated: Jun 12, 2012 00:39 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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Shopkeepers at Sara Sahara claim that they are clueless about why the civic body had conducted Monday's massive demolition drive in the controversial shopping complex.

"We have no idea why the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has taken action against us now. They never bothered us in the past,” said one of the shopkeepers, who did not wish to be named.

Moreover, shopkeepers spoke of only around 60 shops that were demolished, even though official figure is around 150.

In a massive demolition drive many illegal structures in the premises of the controversial Sara-Sahara shopping complex were razed on Monday in a joint public action by the BMC and the Central Public Works Department (CPWD).

The prime plot in south Mumbai is owned by the CPWD, but has allegedly been encroached upon.

The demolished shops, mostly selling electronic goods, were built on the ground plus one storey building on the plot and were restored after the market was gutted in a huge fire last year,

"It is the responsibility of the CPWD to fence the area and protect if from further encroachment," said a senior civic official.

Confirming the action, additional municipal commissioner Mohan Adtani, said: "I had asked for the action and the ward officer has initiated this at his level. It's a good initiative taken by BMC which will prevent encroachment in future,'' he said.

"The BMC administration carried out the process in the morning. I was told that they have removed around 150 shops from the building," said Ganesh Sanap, corporator, ward number 224.

Sara Sahara is no stranger to controversy and its history has been punctuated by several lawsuits. In a major fire last year, Sara Sahara and the neighbouring Manish Market were almost entirely gutted. After the fire, Adtani had told media that the market was illegal and the civic body would not allow it to come up again.

There is also a case pending in court over the alleged encroachments in the CPWD-owned plot.

One of the accused in the case is underworld don Dawood Ibrahim's brother Iqbal Kaskar. It was also claimed that the market was owned by members of Dawood's syndicate. The CPWD is currently fighting the case in court to get the plot back.

The civic body had also suspended some civic officials over the illegal structures.