Was PMC's demolition drive an eyewash?

Oct 02, 2012, 07:51 IST | Vivek Sabnis

Local leaders allege that the demolition drive by the anti-encroachment cell of the civic body on only five of the 22 illegal structures identified at the Taljai-Dhankawadi plateau yesterday morning, raises questions whether the act was just to appease the visiting Chief Minister.

The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) launched its anti-encroachment cell on a demolition drive at the Taljai-Dhankawadi plateau yesterday morning, razing five illegally constructed buildings in the process.

Coincidentally, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan was in the city yesterday and the fact that the civic body initiated action against only five illegal buildings despite identifying and sending notice to owners of 22 such structures in the area, has set tongues wagging.

Wrecked: PMC’s anti-encroachment squad in action at Taljai area yesterday morning. Pic/Krunal Gosavi

The anti-encroachment cell swung into action with several JCB machines and scores of workers early in the morning a day after Ganptati festival. Sources are now claiming that the municipal corporation had chosen yesterday to start its drive, as Chavan was in town.

The CM held a special meeting with Divisional Commissioner Prabhakar Deshmukh yesterday afternoon regarding several core issues in the city, including illegal constructions and encroachments. Earlier in the day, Vivek Kharwadkar, additional city engineer, (Building and Permission) PMC had also interacted with Dehmukh regarding action against illegal constructions at Taljai-Dhankawadi.

The issue of illegal structures at Taljai-Dhankawadi hills became a major issue after the collapse of ‘Somnath’ building, which is owned by former PMC Congress corporator Sanjay Nande.  “Did the PMC administration want to impress the CM by showing positive results while he is in the city,” Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) corporator Varsha Tapkir asked. 

PMC had demolished five buildings during its drive totalling 25,800 square feet at Survey Number 7, 8, 2, 3, 37 and 34.  Shivaji Kadam, executive engineer, (Building and Permission), PMC said that 12 JCBs, 10 jackhammer machines, 10 gas cutter units and one external cutter were used for the drive. He added that PMC’s demolishing drive was to be intensified after the Ganpati festival as per promise.  “We have identified 22 under-construction buildings in the Taljai-Dhankawadi belt where nobody is living inside. Work will be completed in the next two days.” he said. 

Local corporators Subhash Jagtap (NCP), Shivlal Bhosale (Congress) and Varsha Tapkir (BJP) were present during the demolition drive at Taljai and the adjoining Mohan Nagar area. Rajendra Raut, executive engineer, PMC, said when residents living in buildings facing the axe approached him with frantic queries. “We have to take action as per the notice issued under section 478 of BPMC Act,” he said.

Jagtap alleged that PMC officers were misusing their powers and only targeting a few despite our complaints about illegal structures in the Taljai-Dhankawadi area. “We have no objection for demolishing illegal structures, but action is only being taken against a few individuals, while the bigger names are being spared,” he said.

Tapkir said, “Some constructions are being demolished only as per the wish of senior officers from the Building and Permission department of the municipal corporation. This is a grave injustice for many others.”

Bhosale said, “Action should be taken as per the serial numbers of the notices issued in the Taljai area. Why are buildings that were issued notices just two or three days ago being targeted instead of those that were sent notices one or even two years ago?” 

PMC violating own rules?
ON the background of issuing notices to owners of illegal structures, Vivek Velankar from Sajag Nagrik Manch, an NGO, alleged that the civic body’s own building of All India Medical Sciences (AIMS) at Aundh had violated the rules by not getting completion certificate for the last three stories of the complex. The six-storeyed AIMS complex had only received completion certificate for first three storeys. “We have derived this information by filing an RTI application,” Velankar said. “It is illegal and wrong to use the last three storeys of AIMS, where even the civic body fire brigade may object as there is inadequate space for a staircase” Velankar said.

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