Mumbai civic body yet to demolish 88 illegal shrines, just days before court deadline

Of the 108 illegal religious structures left to be demolished, the Bombay high court has granted stay on 20

mumbai Updated: Nov 13, 2017 10:26 IST
Eeshanpriya MS
Eeshanpriya MS
Hindustan Times
Illegal religious structures,Bombay high court,Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation
After receiving several suggestions from citizens, the BMC had finalised that 495 structures needed to be demolished as they cannot be regularised.(FILE PICTURE)

A week before the Bombay high court set deadline to raze illegal religious structures that block footpaths or roads, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) still had to demolish 88 such shrines in the city.

The deadline is November 17. According to the data, as of November 10, the BMC still had to demolish 108 unauthorised religious structures, of which 20 have obtained a stay order from the HC. A senior civic official from the removal of encroachments department said they are working in full gear to comply with the order and will meet the deadline.

Nidhi Choudhari, deputy municipal commissioner, said “The BMC will demolish all religious encroachments from the B category before November 17, in compliance with the HC order, apart from those which have secured a stay order from the court.”

In 2015, the Bombay high court had directed the state government to demolish all illegal religious structures built before September 2009. The HC directives had come while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL). The court order had said that no religion encourages illegal shrines, and none of the religious leaders oppose their demolition. However, BMC’s actions have earned flak of several public representatives.

BJP group leader in BMC, Manoj Kotak, said, “Presently, the civic body has misplaced priorities. It is not just religious structures dotting footpaths, but hawkers too. Why not focus on evicting them?”

Following court orders, the BMC had identified 739 religious structures in the city, which have sprung up after September 2009. Of these 207 belonged to the A category, which could be regularised and 532 belonged to the B category, which could not be regularised and needed to be demolished. The civic body had then invited suggestions and objections on the demolition of the 532 structures and upon receiving feedback from citizens, finalised that 495 out of 532 structures needed to be demolished.

Till October 2017, the BMC had managed to demolish 326 out of 495 category B religious structures. Municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta had recently directed the administration to fast forward the action against the remaining 169 shrines and finish it in a month.

First Published: Nov 13, 2017 10:26 IST