The demolition of illegal structures dotting Thane’s Yeoor forest hills is dragging on, despite repeated High Court orders since February.
And if the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) is to be believed, the delay is because of the just concluded election process and the lack of police protection. On October 14, Justices J.N. Patel and R.P. Sondurbaldota had directed TMC to resume demolitions after declaration of election results on October 22. The court gave TMC four weeks to file an action-taken report.
“The court asked us to resume demolition of all illegal structures from October 23. It directed us to ask for police protection and if we don’t get it, we’ve been asked to approach the court, which will then direct the police. We’ve written to the police commissioner asking for police bandobast for 15 days from October 23,” said TMC Deputy Municipal Commissioner (anti-encroachment) B. G. Pawar.
The TMC began demolishing illegal structures, including bungalows and commercial establishments, in February 2009, after the HC asked for the status of demolition activity in the Yeoor forests. The HC passed that order while hearing a PIL, filed in February, by tribal farmer Chandrakant Jadhav, who had alleged that plots reserved for tribals were being illegally taken over by politicians.
Following the HC directive, the TMC had demolished 19 structures in two phases, and handed over the plots to the collector’s office. A fresh TMC survey says there are 237 structures on the Yeoor hills — and only 13 of those had been cleared by the TMC’s town planning department. Till the first week of September, the civic body had brought down 38 illegal structures.
“We issued notices to the owners of the illegal structures under Section 478 of the Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation Act. We have filed cases against 125 offenders under the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act. We will soon be filing cases against the remaining offenders,” said TMC’s Pawar.
With 186 structures still to be demolished in the Yeoor area, the TMC has a long way to go before it satisfies the HC, whose next hearing is on November 25.