An unauthorised construction undertaken by the Chinchechi Talim, a famous traditional gymnasium in Shukrawar Peth, was supposed to be torn down by a demolition crew yesterday, but the enthusiasm for action shown by the Building Permission Department of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) last week petered out with the arrival of D-Day.
The issue of the talim encroaching on the road next to it by making extensions to its structure in spite of warnings by the PMC was highlighted by MiD DAY last month, and taking cognizance of the report the Building Permission Department issued an April 12 deadline to the talim trust to stop the construction and clear the encroachment.
The department had mentioned in its notice sent to the talim that if it failed to clear the encroachment in the given time, the PMC would take action by razing the offending parts of the structure. The talim trust did not act on the ultimatum, and the PMC reacted by saying it would send a demolition crew to the talim on April 18.
Now, April 18 has come and gone, but the illegal construction still stands.
Officials of the Building Permission Department yesterday complained that they were being pressured by the talim trust and local politicians into not taking action.
An RTI activist who brought the whole issue to light by digging out information from the PMC about the encroachment by Chinchechi Talim also claimed to have been threatened by a mob of around 30 people who said they were “well-wishers” of the talim.
the April 13 MiD DAY report on the PMC saying it will raze the illegal portion of the gym on April 18. Pic/Krunal Gosavi
“On Tuesday a mob of around 30 people entered our house and started pressuring us to not interfere in the matter as the construction of the gymnasium was in the public interest,” said the activist, requesting anonymity. “When I and my family stayed firm on our stand, the mob threatened us with dire consequences.”
On why the PMC did not take action against the talim, Assistant Engineer, Building Permission Department, Ramesh Waghmare first said that sufficient manpower was not available for the demolition.
Yet, yesterday the department was able to demolish 1,700 sq ft of encroachments in the parking areas of various houses in Somwar Peth and Mangalwar Peth, for which it managed to arrange 22 labourers and a posse of 20 policemen.
Later, Waghmare admitted that PMC officials were pressured into not taking action against the Chinchechi Talim.
“The talim trustee has assured us in a letter that they will not continue the construction and will clear the encroachment,” he said.
On whether the PMC had given a timeframe to the trustee for clearing the encroachment, Wagmare chose to keep mum.
According to RTI activists, last morning around 100 supporters of the talim had gathered near it, and these included many wrestlers.
“The mob melted away when an assurance was given by the PMC that it would not take action against the talim,” an activist said, requesting anonymity. “We are now scared for our lives as the angry supporters of the talim can go to any limit, as they have threatened us earlier.”
Law on prevention of encroachment
According to an amendment in the Bombay Provincial Municipal Act, 1888, the Municipal Commissioner has to appoint a designated officer or area-wise officer to ensure no encroachments crop up. The newly incorporated section in the act says if the designated officer fails to take action against any illegal building or encroachment in his area under the relevant sections of the act, he shall be punished with imprisonment for term of up to three months or with a fine of up to Rs 20,000, or both.