For 10 years, BMC ignored encroachers on Malad plot

In a city hungry for space, a large chunk of land -- a 26,000-sqm recreation ground -- has been left untended by the civic authorities. Several illegal shanties have mushroomed on the plot, situated behind Infiniti Mall in Malad (W).

26,000 square metres area of the plot, behind Infiniti Mall. Pic/Nimesh Dave

The plot is adjacent to a construction site, and workers at the site have been using the unguarded and neglected piece of land to build temporary houses, allegedly since 2002.

Local corporator Cyril D’souza had lodged a complaint with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) a week ago, but the authorities are yet to take note of it.

Slum garden: Shanties have been mushrooming at the plot, reserved as a garden or a park. Pic/Nimesh Dave

“The condition of the plot is the same since 2002. In spite of our repeated complaints, the BMC hasn’t acted against the private developer who is using the plot to accommodate his labourers,” said D’souza of P-North ward.

The BMC has been oblivious to the rampant encroachments on the ground. While half the plot has green grass and trees and looks like a half-finished garden, the other half is covered with illegal hutments, with more than 300 shanties cramming the ground.

“How can the BMC allow any builder to utilise its property for his work? The builder is definitely hand-in-glove with the authorities,” alleged D’souza.

The plot, a responsibility of the BMC’s gardens department, was reserved as a recreational ground (RG) -- this means that it can be converted into a garden or a park for public utilisation.

The issue has been raised and letters have been written to the people concerned along with the ward officer. A copy of the same has been submitted to the Bangur Nagar police station. “If the situation remains the same, we will conduct a rally on November 11,” added D’souza.

BMC says
The civic administration, as usual, is taking its own sweet time to respond to the situation. S V R Srinivas, additional municipal commissioner, who is in charge of the gardens department, said, “The issue has been brought to my attention. We will need to check the paperwork on the same. As soon as we get thedetails, necessary action will be taken against the encroachers.”

After the encroachers are removed, the local ward office will require funds to maintain the piece of land. Devendra Kumar Jain, P-North ward officer, said. “The plot belongs to us and I have received complaints about the same. We will take action as soon as we receive grants from the gardens department, as maintenance of the plot after the encroachments are removed will be very important.”

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