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Strict action against hillock encroachers

Taking cognisance of the Shindewadi mishap on the Mumbai-Bangalore National Highway (NH04), the District Collector Vikas Deshmukh yesterday promised strict action against illegal encroachers on the adjacent hillock at Katraj tunnel, as well as those who have constructed service roads without the consent of National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) along the highway.

“Those who have made illegal constructions like plotting and levelling on the hillock will face strong legal action. We will start registering cases against all those responsible in the Shindewadi incident,” said Deshmukh.

According to Bhor taluka tehsildar Ram Choubhe’s investigation report, which was submitted two days after the mishap, Saffron Development firm’s illegal constructions at Shindewadi hillock are responsible for the sudden flash flood on Thursday wherein a woman and her 14-month-old daughter were swept away by gushing rainwater. 

When asked why no action has been initiated against the firm, Deshmukh said, “I have already given instructions. The construction done by Tata Motors in the area is also unauthorised.”

“In November 2011, the district administration had served notices to a firm for illegal constructions on the hillock and even fined them Rs 56 lakh. When they didn’t pay the fine, we also initiated the procedure of converting the ownership of land and making it government land, but the other party approached the High Court and got a stay on the action,” said Deshmukh.

According to district administration, there are several spots like Shindewadi on the NH04 between Pune and Satara, where unauthorized service roads have been developed in the past few years. 

“Those found guilty will soon be served receive notices and face action under the Regional Town Planning Act 52, 53, for constructing service roads without NHAI’s permission,” Deshmukh said. 

The district collector has also given instructions to conduct a technical survey to ascertain the causes behind the flood like situation. “The survey will take an overview of the drainage system in the area and suggest measures to avoid such occurrences in future,” said Deshmukh. 

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