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You can be jailed if you stay in an illegal building

If you’re staying in a building which has flouted construction norms in the Kalyan-Dombivli area, you can be sent to prison for three months. In addition to penalising errant builders, the Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC) has decided to book even the occupants of the building.

According to senior officers from KDMC — which has registered nearly 160 FIRs against wayward developers and demolished nearly 2,000 illegal buildings in the last two years — plans are afoot to book all those who are staying in illegal structures. The corporation would book flat buyers under the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning (MRTP) Act. The law stipulates that offenders shall be put behind bars for three months and the illegal structure demolished immediately.

On the radar: KDMC commissioner Ramnath Sonawane has told MiD DAY that 78,000 buildings in the area are illegal; his assistant municipal commissioner Sanjay Shinde shows copies of the FIRs registered against aberrant developers. Pics/Sameer Markande   

KDMC assistant municipal commissioner Sanjay Shinde, who takes care of the demolitions, said, “The commissioner’s plan to book homebuyers as offenders is at an initial stage. We will first publicise the idea and make people aware that even buyers can be booked if they stay in illegal structures. The process shall be initiated within a month.”

He added, “The MRTP Act section clearly states that not only the one who has constructed an illegal structure but even those who are staying or using illegal premises can be held responsible.”

Asked for the rationale driving the stern step, Shinde said, “If an incident like the building collapse in Mumbra occurs here, who would be held responsible? It would be us. So we decided to initiate action now itself and make people realise that they can be booked for staying in illegal structures. This would make people conduct a thorough check before buying a house.”

The corporation said it has registered more than 160 FIRs. It has provided this paper with a list of developers, of whom more than 750 would be booked soon. “The FIRs are registered at all the police stations under the seven wards of KDMC. The documents are ready for filing more than 750 FIRs against various developers. We have already informed senior police officers about the development, and asked them to cooperate with us and take speedy action,” said KDMC commissioner Ramnath Sonawane.

According to KDMC’s recent assessments, there are nearly 78,000 illegal structures — or 26% of the city’s 3 lakh buildings — within corporation limits and timely action is being taken against them. MiD DAY reported about the illegal construction boom in the region yesterday (‘78,000 Mumbras waiting to happen’), and the steps the corporation is taking to curb it.

A senior officer, however, claimed that registering an FIR against homebuyers would lead to chaos and political interference. “Even the civic officers who are working on this plan are aware of its repercussions. Such a stand would see senior bureaucrats come and go, but the officials who have to go on the field and meet corporators and politicians on a daily basis are the ones who would suffer later,” said the officer on condition of anonymity.   

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