Elected members encroaching govt land has locals worried

Jan 09, 2013, 08:15 IST | Chetna Yerunkar

Ghatkopar (E) residents say part of collector's land near their locality has been usurped by an MLA, who's erected a religious structure, while authorities looked on; allege slum dwellers are also taking over the plot

Encroachment continues to hassle space-starved Mumbaikars. This time, it is the residents of a Ghatkopar (E) colony who say they are weary of writing complaint letters to the authorities against illegal settlements, including a religious structure, piling up in and around their locality.

A BJP MLA has illegally established an inn for pilgrims of a certain faith on government land close to Caseurina society in Ghatkopar (E), residents alleged; other illegal settlements mushrooming in the area

For the residents of Caseurina society, the problem became apparent when they realised that one of the authorities – an elected representative - was allegedly privy and party to the encroachment. The residents now say they are clueless whom to approach. They claim that the infringement needs to be checked by government authorities as the encroached land belongs to the suburban collector.

The Caseurina society stands near the Eastern Express Highway, marking the eastern limit of Ghatkopar. To make matters worse, an illegal religious establishment has been erected by BJP MLA Prakash Mehta, claimed the corporators protesting the encroachment. This came up a few days after an earlier such structure had come around December-end and was subsequently torn down by the authorities. A protest on Saturday by corporators to support the demand of clearing the area of these illegal constructions has not had any effect.

The protest started around 11 in the morning, with politicians, their supporters, and residents demanding that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation get rid of “this nuisance”. Pravin Chheda, Congress corporator of N ward, said, “Residents and social activists have approached us for help. Almost 400 sq m has been encroached by unknown locals and the BMC has not taken any action against them. Even a religious structure has come up, built illegally by an MLA. This is not acceptable. Action needs to be taken against this as well.”

Shailesh Shetty, an activist from the area who has written to the police station, the BMC, and the collector’s office, requesting that they tidy up the land of encroachment, said, “No one (any of the authorities) wants to deal with the problem in and around this area. I have approached multiple authorities but the (religious) structure still stands there, even as 400 sq m has been encroached by locals.” Repeated attempts to contact Prakash Mehta, BJP MLA from Ghatkopar, did not yield any result.

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