Illegal Alibaug bungalows: Bombay HC slams state for inaction
The Bombay high court on Tuesday rapped the state government for failing to take effective action against 24 illegal bungalows of Mumbai businessmen and noted industrialists, built along the Alibaug coast.
A division bench of chief justice Pradeep Nandrajog and justice Bharati Dangre said authorities promptly demolish shanties, but technicalities are raised when it comes to taking action against plush bungalows.
“This is no demolition…don’t give us trash,” the bench said after examining photographs submitted by government pleader PP Kakade to show that certain bungalows, which were not protected by interim orders of local courts, were demolished. Judges found that the action was of a trivial nature, of some small structures being pulled down.
“State goes after the poor man who builds a small shack, but not the rich,” the bench said, while hearing a public interest litigation filed by Shambhuraje Yuvakranit, a branch of Akhil Bhartiya Maratha Samaj Seva Sangh, complaining about several illegal constructions along the Mumbai-side shoreline of Alibaug tehsil – primarily in Saswane, Kihim, Awas, Thal villages. “Poor man makes a house out of need, but such plush bungalows…this is done out of greed,” the bench added. After Kakade pointed out that the bungalow owned by diamantaire Nirav Modi had been demolished, the bench said, “You demolished the bungalow because you know he will not come back to India and if he wanted it, he will have to come back to India.”
The petitioner has complained that more than 175 bungalows, mostly owned by industrialists and prominent businessmen from Mumbai, were constructed along the Alibaug shoreline in no-development zones like the area between high-tide line and low-tide line and within 200m of the high-tide line. According to the petitioner, under the Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) norms, no construction can be made in these areas.
According to information furnished by revenue authorities earlier, notices have been issued to the owners of 159 bungalows constructed in CRZ areas along the Alibaug shoreline, declaring that the structures are unauthorised and calling upon the owners to pull down their respective constructions.
The court was further informed that of the 159 bungalows, 24 have already been demolished and 111 others have approached local civil courts and secured protection orders.
On July 31, the bench had directed the authorities to pull down the remaining 24 bungalows, which are not protected by any court order within a week, but on Tuesday it was annoyed to note that no such action was taken, and instead again notices were sent to the owners of the structures concerned.
The court has now directed the state government to submit within two weeks proper details of the action of demolition taken by revenue authorities at Raigad.