Following our front-page report, civic and highway officials join hands, begin razing illegal structures clogging drains
Workers raze Kinara dhaba along the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Highway, on Tuesday. Pic/Hanif Patel
Soon after mid-day’s report about encroachers flooding the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Highway hit the newsstands, the VVCMC demolished several illegal dhabas and stalls near Sasunavghar in Vasai East. In the presence of security personnel, workers razed structures built on NHAI land, said officials. We have demolished the part of structures of around 40 dhabas that were using the land of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI),” said Kishore Gavas, deputy municipal commissioner, Vasai Virar City Municipal Corporation (VVCMC). However, no FIR has been filed as yet, because the VVCMC is “busy in the anti-encroachment drive,” said Gavas.
Workers demolish illegal dhabas and stalls along the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Highway near Sasunavghar in Vasai East, on Tuesday
The encroachment along the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Highway near Sasunavghar in Vasai East had clogged a culvert, which is essential to drain rainwater. During heavy downpour, the rainwater gets accumulated on the highway, as the encroachments have blocked the natural drainage system, the culvert and lands have been illegally filled with debris piling up to 40-feet high. “We have made a temporary drain so that the rainwater can recede from the highway. It took us four days to make the temporary drain,” said a civic official.
The blame game
The matter also exposed alleged corruption at VVCMC and Palghar district collector’s (DC) offices, with officials turning a blind eye to illegal land filling and encroachments. The land filling happened behind Kinara dhaba. “It is private land, and the illegal activity has been going on for the past three to four years,” said Anil Thakur, manager of Kinara dhaba.
The illegal land filling has triggered a blame game between revenue and civic officials. Officials told mid-day that the VVCMC, in a letter dated May 9, informed the Vasai taluka tahsildar about the illegal filling of land—Survey No. 117—at Sasunavghar. “We had also requested the tahsildar to take action against those involved in illegal land filling, but the revenue official did not pay heed to our letter,” said Mohan Sankhe, the assistant municipal commissioner of G ward.
Activist Atul Mote said, “Had the revenue department acted on time, the road users would not have had to waste their valuable time in traffic jams. The VVCMC and NHAI officials should also have been proactive in keeping a check on encroachments and land filling.” “Recently, the Palghar DC Govind Bodke called a meeting and pulled up civic officials. But why didn’t the DC act on VVCMC’s complaint in May? What stopped the revenue officials from taking legal action against those involved in land filling?” Mote asked.
‘It’s VVCMC’s job’
The DC, however, said that it was the VVCMC’s job to prevent illegal activities in the area. “The VVCMC is the planning authority of the area and it is their job to keep a check on illegal land filling. I have told VVCMC officials to also act against encroachments,” Bodke told mid-day.
It took four days to create a temporary drain amid 40-ft high debris dumped behind Kinara dhaba, say officials. Pics/Hanif Patel
Vasai taluka Tahsildar Avinash Kosti said, “The civic officials don’t know their own rights to work. They have been dumping their responsibility on the revenue department. We did nothing about the May letter because it had nothing to do with the revenue department. Even today (July 4), the VVCMC sent a letter, seeking action against those responsible.”
“The municipal corporation should check how trucks are entering in their jurisdiction from Mumbai and dumping debris on private land,” Kosti told mid-day. A civic official said they may set up a check-post near Varsova bridge to prevent this. Meanwhile, neither the VVCMC nor the DC has been able to find the person dumping debris behind Kinara dhaba.
No of dhabas razed on Tuesday