Mumbai: When a poster speaks a thousand words

Updated: Dec 25, 2016, 12:03 IST | Shailesh Bhatia |

A poster at an allegedly illegal construction site reveals Gorai corporator’s association with the same; accused says rivals at work

The poster at the allegedly illegal construction site in Gautam Nagar
The poster at the allegedly illegal construction site in Gautam Nagar

It is a common sight to see posters from various political parties cropping up overnight, taking credit for any civic work being carried out in their respective areas. The practice, however, backfired for a Gorai corporator, Shiva Shetty, when a team of government officials raided three under-construction toilets in Gautam Nagar, behind the Gorai bus depot, last Thursday. An FIR was filed against Shetty, as the structures in question violate CRZ norms, that prohibit construction within a 50-metre vicinity of the mangroves."

According to forest officials, who were accompanied by enforcing authorities (including the Nayab Tahsildar and the Revenue Department) the contractor and his workers made a quick escape from the construction site, just before the officials arrived. The only evidence they could collect was statements of a few locals and a poster bearing the name and photograph of Shetty, stating that the work was sponsored by him. Based on the findings and panchnama, an FIR was filed against Shetty and the unknown contractor at the MHB Police Station (a copy of which is with mid-day), under IPC sections. The case is still being investigated.

Shetty denied having anything to do with the construction of the illegal structure. When asked about the poster, he said it was the handiwork of people who wanted to tarnish his image. Shetty said, "I did hear about the FIR, but if one checks with the BMC office, it will be clear that they are the ones who initiated the project, using government funds. I have not spent a single penny from my pocket nor do I know who put up my poster there," he said.

Assistant Commissioner BMC, Kishore Gandhi from the R/C Ward, confirmed that the work was indeed being carried out by his staff, as per central government directives to curb open defecation. "There are over 100 hutment dwellers, who do not have access to toilets. If it is proven that the toilets are indeed violating CRZ norms, we shall take steps to relocate them," he said.

Reji Abraham, a non-officio member of a state government committee for protection and conservation of mangroves in Mumbai , described the incident as a clear case of politicians and civic authorities, targeting environmentally sensitive areas (which are protected by High Court directives), for personal gains, under the garb of Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan.

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