Sitting in the balcony of his house, watching a neighbouring building being demolished yesterday, 13-year-old Digha resident, Prathamesh Mane, could not understand why the house where he has been staying with his parents for past four years will also be turned into rubble today.
Based on a PIL, the Bombay High Court on September 23 directed CIDCO and MIDC to raze illegal structures in Digha. Demolition began on Monday. Prathamesh Mane (below) watches a neighbouring building being demolished. The building where he stays will also be demolished today. Pics/Sameer Markande
Following the Bombay High Court’s directives on September 23, officials from the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) have started demolishing illegal structures in Digha, Navi Mumbai, from Monday. The building where he stays, Keru Plaza, is also illegal.
High Court directive
Based on a PIL filed by activist Rajeev Mishra and Mayura Maru, the Bombay High Court on September 23 directed CIDCO and MIDC to raze illegal structures in Digha. Out of the 94 illegal buildings, 90 have come up on MIDC land and four on CIDCO land.
On Monday, MIDC officials razed two buildings, Shivram and Parvati apartments amidst angry protests from locals. On Tuesday, occupants of Keru Plaza were asked to evacuate the building. Officials from MIDC said that they will continue the drive until further orders from the court.
Speaking to mid-day, Avinash Mali, deputy engineer MIDC, said, “As per the High Court directive, we will continue our demolition drive and will not stop until new orders come from the court.”
Meanwhile, Belapur MLA Manda Mhatre told mid-day that she, along with NMMC opposition leader Vijay Chougule, MP Rajan Vichare and state PWD minister Eknath Shinde met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday. “We had a meeting with the Chief Minister on the Digha issue, which he promised to look into,” she said.
Commenting on the status of illegal structures in Mumbai like Campa Cola, as well as in Mumbra and Ulhasnagar, advocate Vinod Sampat pointed out that illegal structures prevail everywhere, however action is not taken against each due to presence of local political lobbies.
“Presence of a powerful political lobby is the reason behind illegal structures prevailing in these areas. However, in Digha that does not seem to be the case and hence the demolition has not stopped,” he said. It should also be noted that majority of the population staying in Digha belongs to the economically weaker sections of society.
Residents want justice
Prathamesh’s parents feel cheated by the developer as they had purchased the one room kitchen flat in the year 2011 by depositing Rs 12 lakh. “I see my parents crying. They say that we cannot stay in this building and will have to look for a new house,” said a nervous Prathamesh.
‘Residents paid taxes’
Another resident of Keru Plaza, 42-year-old Mandakani Salian said that she bought a house in the building in the year 2012 and regularly paid tax, water and electricity bills. “From 2012 I have been paying all the required taxes to the municipal body. If the structure was illegal then why was NMMC collecting taxes from us and why did MSEB officials give an electricity connection to our building?” she asked.
Salian has shifted all her belongings to her mother’s place in Bhandup. “I have left my six-year-old daughter at my mother’s place. It is the responsibility of the local authorities to make temporary rehabilitation arrangements for us. Nobody has come to help. We are here with no food since Tuesday,” she added.
‘We want justice’
Another resident, Chandrika Koli (30), was holding her 2-year-old daughter and her belongings on a footpath. “We want justice. The authorities have woken up after so many years and suddenly asked us to evacuate our homes. Why didn’t they object when the building was constructed? The developer is not answering our calls.
Where are we supposed to go now? The municipal body should arrange temporary accommodation for us and take action against the developer,” she said. She further revealed that her husband does odd jobs in a small private firm and had invested their entire savings in buying the house a few years ago.