BMC officials in dock for filing bogus demolition reports
Civic body initiates inquiry against two officials after they claimed in their report that two illegal buildings in Kurla had been brought down when, in fact, they never were
Illegal constructions are one of the biggest problems plaguing Mumbai. In a city where it’s a privilege for citizens to have a place to stay, builders, locals and officials from the civic body often form a nexus to build illegal structures. In few cases, such structures are shown as demolished only on paper but continue to exist on ground. In one such instance, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials from the Kurla ward office are now in the dock after they filed a ‘bogus demolition’ report in their diary last year. These officials allegedly showed on record that two illegal structures at Qureshi Nagar, Kurla (East) have been demolished. However, the structures still exist as in the first case, police protection wasn’t provided while in the latter the demolition was cancelled after BMC officials didn’t turn up. Now, the municipal body has initiated an enquiry into the matter against Junior Engineer (Building and Factory) Prasad Patil and mukadam Shivaji Shinde of L-ward. The civic body sprung into action after Adhikar Foundation, a non-government organisation, accessed these documents under the Right to Information Act and brought these discrepancies to the BMC’s notice last year.
Fatima Jundawali Chawl; (below) Sarfuddin Chawl at Qureshi Nagar, Kurla East
What exactly happened
The reports filed by Patil on August 11, 2014 stated that the BMC had conducted the demolition at two places in Qureshi Nagar, Kurla East. The four-storeyed Noor Mohammad Jundawali Chawl in Qureshi Nagar was demolished first under police protection from 1.30 pm to 4.30 pm.
However, on the same date the officer has filed another report, which states that the four-storeyed Sarfuddin Chawl was demolished between 11 am and 1.30 pm. But this structure wasn’t demolished at all since there wasn’t any police protection provided for it. In fact, records from Chunabhatti Police station show that police protection was provided only for the demolition of the Noor Mohammad Jundawali Chawl.
The BMC has initiated a preliminary enquiry against the engineer and the mukadam
In another case, Patil has filed a report that mentions that on August 13, 2014 the BMC had undertaken the demolition of Fatima Jundawali Chawl. However, according to records from Chunabhatti police station the demolition programme was cancelled as the BMC ward officials didn’t turn up at the site.
Shakeel Shaikh, President of Adhikar Foundation, who found these discrepancies and complained to zonal Deputy Municipal Commissioner Ashok Khaire and civic chief Sitaram Kunte, demanded immediate action. Shaikh said, “Patil and Shinde filed bogus demolition reports. Police protection was provided only for the demolition of Noor Mohammad Jundawali Chawl. But they claim Sarfuddin Chawl and Fatima Jundawali Chawl have also been demolished.”
When asked about the allegation, Patil told sunday mid-day, “We had carried out demolition on both the occasions. The Sarfuddin Chawl was demolished in October 2014 butI mentioned the August 11 date by mistake. The Fatima Jundawali Building has been demolished without police protection.”
Deputy Municipal Commissioner, zone 5, Ashok Khaire confirmed the case and said, “Prima facie, the engineer and the mukadam are found to be guilty. We have initiated preliminary enquiry in this case 15 days ago. After this a departmental enquiry will take place and the course of action will be decided. If they are found guilty, they will either be suspended or a fine will be imposed on them.”