HC to thane collector: ‘Demolish illegal buildings on Bhiwandi’s farmlands’
The court was acting on a public interest litigation filed by Rahul Jogdand, a Thane resident who claimed many buildings — primarily commercial godowns — were constructed on farmland across 60 villages within Bhiwandi tehsil.Updated: May 08, 2019, 04:45 IST
The Bombay high court (HC) on Friday directed the Thane district collector to inspect thousands of constructions made on agricultural lands in Bhiwandi and demolish them if found to be illegal.
The court was acting on a public interest litigation filed by Rahul Jogdand, a Thane resident who claimed many buildings — primarily commercial godowns — were constructed on farmland across 60 villages within Bhiwandi tehsil.
Jogdand said he had filed several right-to-information (RTI) queries with the local revenue authorities, seeking information on the number of illegal buildings on farmlands, but did not receive replies. He also said no action was taken about his complaints on the same issue.
The HC bench of chief justice Pradeep Nandrajog and justice Nitin Jamdar noted that Jogdand’s plea was filed in 2013 and for a long time, none of the authorities had submitted the exact details regarding illegal constructions on farmlands.
In 2017, the HC had directed the secretary of the Maharashtra State Legal Services Authority (MSLSA) to conduct a joint inspection of these buildings with local revenue authorities and Jogdand and within six weeks, submit a report detailing the number of illegal constructions in the 60 villages.
However, the MSLSA secretary recently reported that there appeared to be over 20,000 illegal constructions in these villages and it would not be possible to carry out the task assigned.
On May 3, the HC directed the Thane district collector to form a team and “pass orders as per law, requiring not only demolition of the unauthorised structures but action against errant officers who turned a blind eye to [illegal] constructions.”
The court directed the collector to submit a bimonthly report on actions taken against illegal buildings to the Thane District Legal Services Authority, who in turn would submit a half-yearly report to the MSLSA.