RWITC fights to reclaim prime land from 'encroacher'
In October 2012, arch number 7 beneath the Mahalaxmi bridge, which the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) claims is its property, suddenly had shutters on both sides of it.
The shuttered arch below the Mahalaxmi bridge
According to RWITC officials, the arch, which covers an area of nearly 500 sq ft, was once part of the path through which they used to transport horses, brought on trains, to the racecourse and was used by many people to access the grounds as well.
They claim they have been complaining to the BMC against the encroachment for two years (copy of a letter sent in 2013 is available with mid-day), but no action has been taken. There are many shops beneath the Mahalaxmi bridge and RWITC claims that the entire area belongs to them and they have even been paying property tax for the same.
This includes arch number 7 and the racecourse has, in its letter to the MCGM, complained that some unknown people encroached upon the arch. They have asked the BMC to immediately demolish the shutters.
The letter reads, “To give necessary directives to the concerned authorities to demolish the illegal construction and hand over the passage, known as arch number 7, below the Mahalaxmi bridge, for which the club is regularly paying the property tax to the MCGM.” The club was also ready to pay the charges for the demolition, but the shutters remain standing.
The local corporator and ward committee chairperson Ratna Mahale had also complained to the civic body stating that it had come to her knowledge that some people had carried out illegal construction beneath the bridge. She had asked the BMC to initiate action against the encroachers.
The BMC had reportedly served a notice to Narendra Sakharkar, the alleged owner of the arch, who, in his reply, reiterated his ownership of it and said he had all the documents to prove it. He had asked the BMC for some time to furnish the documents claiming that he had shifted houses recently.
Replying to a query from mid-day, the secretary of RWITC said in a letter, “I write to confirm that in spite of several reminders, till date, no action has been taken by the office of the Asst. Commissioner, G-South Ward, to demolish the illegal structure, constructed in the aforesaid premises, by unknown person with the help of two people, claiming to be from MCGM Solid Waste Management office in Worli on 27/28th October 2012.
I have to also inform you that the RWITC has been regularly paying property tax, including on the area in question, and the receipts of property tax paid on 7th July 2014 for the period 1st April 2014-30th September and 1st October 2014-31st March 2015 are enclosed herewith,” the letter went on to state.
The other side
Ammit Sakharkar, son of Narendra Sakharkar, said, “We are not in the wrong, we have all the documents and my dad has even proved it at various junctures, whenever required. The said property doesn’t belong to the racecourse.
They are unnecessarily harassing us and even trying to scare other occupants. The racecourse land ends where the boundary is, and this particular arch is outside the boundary and hence the racecourse has no claim here.” Assistant Municipal Commissioner Keshav Ubale, said he would go through the documents before commenting.