Eighteen illegal buildings in Janawadi, Kharadi and Dhankawadi were brought down yesterday, the third day of the demolition drive initiated by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). Among the structures demolished by the civic body in Janawadi, Gokhale Nagar, were those which were supposed to be razed by the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA). The anti-encroachment cell of the PMC faced much opposition while going about the demolition of these structures. About 50 people who opposed the demolition in Janwadi were detained by the Chatushrungi police. Former NCP corporator Neelesh Nikam was arrested along with Rajendra Orse, Pravin Dongare, Youraj Shigade, Chandbi Shaikh, Seema Mishra and Mangala Dere.
There was tension in Janawadi after the demolition drive. “The police also lathi-charged us,” Mangal Dere, a local resident, said. The anti-encroachment cell took action on two big constructions in Chandannagar, Kharadi. It demolished two buildings that had ground-plus-three floors. In Janawadi eight structures faced the hammer, with the PMC razing the upper two storeys of each. Similar action was taken in Dhankawadi, in Survey Nos. 2, 34 and 36. Sudhir Kadam, executive engineer, Building and Construction, PMC, said action was taken on small and two-storey structures in thearea.
PMC had issued a total of 31 legal notices to the residents of the constructions in Janawadi which came under the jurisdiction of MHADA. “We have taken action on illegal constructions that come under the jurisdiction of MHADA because it (MHADA) doesn’t have the required infrastructure like demolition equipment,” Vivek Kharwadkar, additional city engineer, Building and Permission, PMC, said. “Generally, there is joint action by MHADA and PMC. Our drive will continue till the people get the message that illegal structures will not be tolerated.”
MHADA said it had nothing to do with the action on illegal structures. “PMC is the only planning authority for razing these structures and we can only provide information to it,” Rajendra Nimbalkar, CEO, MHADA, Pune, said. “We had given a general letter to the PMC about the illegal structures, but not about those in Janawadi.” Former corporator Nikam said that action was taken on structures created by flood-affected people in Janawadi only because of the collapse of Somnath building on the Taljai-Dhankawadi plateau.
“About 1,650 flood-affected people are unnecessarily suffering,” Nikam said. “The PMC can regularise the structures by removing the additional construction that is more than the approved 2.5 FSI in Janawadi. The PMC general body had earlier, in 2007, given the go-ahead to these people top create their own housing. The civic body failed to invite suggestions and objections on the same before sending the proposal to the state government. I am raising this issue with Chief Minister Pritviraj Chavan.” Rafiq Shakh, an auto-rickshaw driver whose construction also faced the hammer, said he got no time to react to the legal notice sent by the PMC.
“I received the legal notice issued by PMC on October 1 and there was a holiday on October 2,” he said. “How can I put forward my stand when there was no time provided by the PMC? This is a residential zone for the flood-affected and it comes under the District Collector. I had spent Rs 30 lakh on the construction by taking loans, and now my whole family is on the road.”