BMC pulls down 5,000 illegal structures in Mumbai, crackdown to continue | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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BMC pulls down 5,000 illegal structures in Mumbai, crackdown to continue

In one of its biggest crackdowns, the civic body has demolished encroachments along Tansa pipeline and Mithi river this month

mumbai Updated: Dec 16, 2017 12:37 IST
After the death of 23 people in the Elphinstone Road bridge stampede on September 29, the 150-m area around railway stations was declared no-hawking zone.
After the death of 23 people in the Elphinstone Road bridge stampede on September 29, the 150-m area around railway stations was declared no-hawking zone.(FILE)

In the past fortnight, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) demolished more than 4,000 illegal structures such as stalls, shrines and hutments along Tansa pipeline and Mithi River in one of its biggest crackdowns against encroachments in the city.

The action in some of these cases is according to the directives of the Bombay high court (HC).

ON THE PIPELINE

Of the 16,628 hutments identified along the Tansa pipeline, the BMC demolished 9,632 in four phases. The HC in 2011 had asked the BMC to demolish illegal hutments within 10m radius of the pipeline. The BMC plans to convert the entire stretch into a 39-km cycling track, deadline for which has been extended twice. “We are in the final phase of the project. In December, we demolished more than 800 hutments in Matunga and Kurla. The deadline is January 15, 2018,” said an official, adding Rs300 crore will be spent on the cycling track.

WON’T STALL EFFORTS

After the death of 23 people in the Elphinstone Road bridge stampede on September 29, the 150-m area around railway stations was declared no-hawking zone. Between September and November, more than 20,800 stalls across the city have been cleared. The BMC demolished 800 illegal structures in Dahisar’s Ganpat Patil Nagar, the highest this month.

FAITH IN LAW

According to data obtained from the civic body, of the 495 illegal shrines that could not be regularised and needed to be demolished, 49 still remain. After a 2009 SC order asked all states to remove all religious structures that have come up after the decision, the final deadline given to BMC was November 17. However, 41 court cases are still pending and the rest are on private land, said an official. Considering the slow progress, the HC has been extending the state’s deadline for almost a year.

BRAINS BEHIND BEAUTY

The BMC has also cracked down on slums along the Mithi river, as part of the river beautification project. Officials said 700 hutments were removed from Andheri (East), Kurla and Bhandup this month, while 828 more will be removed by March 2018.

Speaking to HT, Nidhi Chaudhary, deputy municipal commissioner, in charge of encroachment removal, said, “Demolition along Tansa pipeline has been done in phases. The Mithi river revival project has been successful so far. Our priority is clearing important roads, namely New Link Road, to curb traffic congestion.”

According to officials, stay orders have caused more delays. “L-ward [Kurla] had 5,500 encroachments, the highest among all wards along Tansa and Mithi. About 2,000 have been removed till date. Stay orders have delayed the work in some cases,” said assistant municipal commissioner Ajitkumar Ambi.

CITIZENSPEAK

Citizens are pleased with the action. Anandini Thakoor, trustee of H/W Federation, said, “Continuous action is necessary. Recent actions have emboldened us to send more complaints and feedback to BMC.”

Ashoke Pandit of Save Open Spaces said not allowing encroachers to return is more important. “Action should be taken against officials who allow illegal structures to be put up. The BMC needs more manpower and better infrastructure to prevent encroachments on a long-term basis,” he said.