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25 designated officers to tackle illegal structures

In the aftermath of the building collapse in Mumbra, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) appointed 25 assistant engineers on Monday as ‘designated officers’ who are to be held accountable for all illegal structures post-1995 in the city. These officers have been given all powers to tackle encroachments and illegal structures. On Monday, the municipal corporation went ahead with the appointments after filing an affidavit before the Bombay High Court.

Opposing the move
The decision was made in March, and since then, the Engineers Union is up in arms against it. “This is clearly a sign of making ‘scapegoats’ out of assistant engineers. We will take stern action against the administration,” said Sainath Rajadhyaksha, general secretary of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Engineers Union. He also said that if Assistant Municipal Commissioner (AMC) is in-charge of the whole ward then he should be responsible for the illegal structures too.

39 more officers
On the other hand, the civic administration is firm on their decision of appointing assistant engineers as ‘designated officers’ and making them accountable for city’s illegal structures. “We have appointed 25 designated officers. Apart from them, 39 more will be appointed soon and they will be given the same powers,” said Deputy Municipal Commissioner Anand Waghralkar.

Encroachments in the city
w Most complaints regarding encroachments and illegal structures come in from the suburbs. In a recent affidavit filed by the BMC, about 56,000 illegal structures had come up from 2008 to March 2013. Around 46,000 have been demolished and 5,000 court cases are pending. The maximum unauthorised constructions were found in K (West) ward that covers Vile-Parle, Andheri, Jogeshwari, Malad, Borivli and Dahisar.

About 6,458 illegal constructions were noticed in the last five years and 5,312 of those have been demolished. In South Mumbai, A ward, which covers Colaba, Churchgate, Fort and Nariman Point, has seen about 1,714 illegal structures. A corporator of R-North ward said, "It is the administration’s duty to ensure that encroachments don't return, which never happens.”

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