PMC demolition crew beats hasty retreat as shopkeepers stand firm

Six months after failed attempt to evict them, shop owners near Lal Deval again overwhelm civic body's wrecking team

Shopkeepers located along the boundary wall of the Rosary School and opposite the petrol pump near Lal Deval have once again managed to outwit the authorities and save their shops from demolition.
The PMC demolition team was met with stiff protests yesterday afternoon and the authorities decided to serve one-month's notice to the shopkeepers before conducting the drive.

The police have requested the PMC to raze all encroachments
near Lal Deval for security reasons, but attempts to do
so have failed so far

Earlier, the Bundgarden police had requested the PMC Encroachment Department to relocate the small shops, which they perceived as a security threat to Lal Deval, but the civic body gave in to the shopkeepers' protests six months ago and failed to take any action.

Meanwhile, officially registered shopkeepers in the area swarmed the tri-junction of the Babasaheb Ambedkar Road resulting in a traffic jam for vehicles coming from Camp and East Street.
The PMC crew and the supporting team of cops were overwhelmed by the protesters and could do little to go ahead with the demolition.
The shopkeepers, claiming that the footpath has been their only source of income since the past thirty years, slammed the body for the unannounced demolition drive.

"Ideally, a month's notice should be served before the demolition plan. Also, why should they take away one's bread during Diwali," said shop owner Sunil Shinde.

The shopkeepers also alleged that the PMC is on the payroll of the newly opened BMW car showroom, and that the management finds the small shops embarrassing for its line up of high-end automobiles.

A PMC official, identifying himself as Londhe, claimed that the PMC had informed the shopkeepers well in advance about the demolition and had also given them the option of rehabilitation.

"We will try and sort out the matter as soon as possible with the higher authorities," he said, refusing to comment any further.

Meanwhile, pan shop owner Shaikh Kamruddin said that they were more than willing to relocate to make space for developmental work.

"This is clearly serving the interests of the elite and depriving the poor of their rights. We will never oppose civic work since it will benefit everyone. But we cannot sell our dignity for selfish interests," he said.

Deputy Commissioner (Encroachment) Ramesh Shelar said that the drive was canceled and a month's notice has been granted.

"Licence rules empower us to demolish within a day's notice and the shopkeepers are quite aware of this. We will however show them various places for relocation and then demolish within a month's time," said Shelar.
He added that the shops were causing traffic jams at the junction and obstructing the movement of Rosary School buses. Former Bundgarden Senior Police Inspector Suhas Nadgouda however denied any such request to the PMC.

"The request could have come from other departments like the Anti-Terrorist Squad or the Special Branch and so on," Nadgouda said.

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