NMMC moves to action after demands to stop illegal construction in city intensify

ByG. Mohiuddin Jeddy
Jan 10, 2023 12:30 AM IST

NAVI MUMBAI: In an attempt to stop the growing menace of unauthorised structures across the city, especially in gaothan areas, Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) has decided to come down hard on the civic officials, holding them accountable for illegal construction in their respective areas

NAVI MUMBAI: In an attempt to stop the growing menace of unauthorised structures across the city, especially in gaothan areas, Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) has decided to come down hard on the civic officials, holding them accountable for illegal construction in their respective areas.

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HT Image

NMMC has issued notices to 2,440 illegal constructions in the last 5 years. Of these, 545 notices were issued in 2022. Local observers claim the figures hardly mirror the situation on the ground and that the notices have had little effect.

10 years ago, the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) stated that there are over 30,000 “need-based constructions” in the city. While that number has manifolded over the years, several hundred more are under construction. NMMC’s action against such constructions is followed by the re-construction of the demolished building.

While the PAPs have claimed to have constructed ‘need-based’ houses for their families, due to delay in getting compensatory land, it has also been used as a ploy by some sections to construct illegal multi-storey buildings that are sold for commercial gains.

Unchecked mushrooming of illegal constructions over the years has left little space in the villages for even emergency services to reach in case of emergencies. The buildings have been constructed stuck to each other leaving little space and road.

While several buildings in Digha area occupied for years have already been declared illegal by the court, an illegal building crashed in Bonkode in October last year, two more buildings in Nerul, in which residents had been residing after purchasing them for lakhs of rupees have been ordered to be demolished.

Lamented Belapur MLA Manda Mhatre, “The poorer sections of the society are lured by the availability of cheap flats in the gaothan areas at 10-15 lakh. People from Mumbai and villages sell their tenements, farms, and even personal jewellery to purchase these flats hoping for better living conditions.”

Speaking on the menace, she said, “Chawls are being demolished and Illegal multi-storey buildings are coming up in all the areas from Airoli to Belapur. These buildings do not have Commencement Certificate or Occupational Certificate required from NMMC and CIDCO. The developers simply construct and sell them with little restriction.”

The MLA alleged, “This is happening because of the nexus between the politicians and the land mafia. The corporators and the elected representatives are given flats in every illegally constructed building or paid money. The developer and the landowner then go scot free.”

City BJP president and PAP leader Ramchandra Gharat said, “Reserved social utility plots are being encroached upon. All the five stakeholders -- developer, official, land mafia, politician and even the buyers -- who fall for greed are responsible.”

He demanded, “The civic official in charge of the area should be held responsible for it and action were taken against him. The politicians involved should be banned from public life by the election commission. It is very unfortunate that some corporators and politicians are on the payroll of the developers. Why don’t the buyers who spend lakhs of rupees on properties, not spend a couple of thousand rupees for an advocate to check the property’s legality?”

When contacted municipal commissioner (additional charge) Abhijit Bangar, who has been aggressive on the issue said, “Illegal construction is a big headache. There are several factors involved. Locally, some factors support them and to some extent, there is also local level involvement of authorities.”

Stated Bangar, “From what I am observing, the need for accountability is very important. We need to identify who is responsible for the encroachment area. That official will be responsible for every unauthorised building coming up in that area.”

The commissioner explained, “It is not as if we have a dearth of resources to deal with the menace. If the officials have any resource problems of removing such construction in terms of machinery etc. they should approach higher authorities. There are large numbers of encroachment, but we definitely can continue acting against them.”

Bangar added, “Fact remains that the action taken so far is not in proportion to the menace. Enough of meetings, simply holding meetings will not help. There must be accountability and we need to fix that responsibility to curb the menace.”

Confirmed municipal commissioner Rajesh Narvekar, who is set to take back charge soon, “We have reviewed the situation and will be taking necessary action at the earliest.”

He appealed, “Those planning to purchase flats should first check with NMMC and CIDCO on the legality of the constructions. It will ensure that they do not face any hurdles in future due to their transactions.”

The illegal construction ploy

The PAPs of 29 villages, whose land was acquired in the 70s for the development of Navi Mumbai had been promised 12.5% developed land along with monetary compensation. The allotment of the 12.5% land was however delayed for years by CIDCO. The PAPs say during these years, their families grew and hence they needed more space, for which they were forced to resort to need-based constructions (Garjepoti Ghar) in their areas.

Several of these constructions have been a major controversy over the years with CIDCO and NMMC acting, stating illegal constructions have mushroomed under the garb of need-based houses. Multi-storey buildings have been constructed here and sold to gullible buyers.

The state government has permitted the regularisation of need-based constructions up to February 2022. It has also recently reduced the premium for it.

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