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Indian stocks marginally lower, eyes now on Assembly exit polls
Meanwhile, Indian stock indices opened largely unchanged on Thursday, to later trade marginally in the red. The relative weakness was likely because investors resorted to profit booking after a bumper Wednesday session, and ahead of Assembly exit polls of five states later this evening.
Benchmark indices Sensex and Nifty were 0.2-0.3 per cent lower at the time of filing this report.
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On Wednesday, Sensex and Nifty closed 727 points and 207 points with over 1 per cent higher each. Nifty Bank, Nifty Auto, Nifty Financial Services, Nifty IT, Nifty PSU Bank, and Nifty Private Bank were some of the top movers.
The exit polls due on Thursday evening are likely to give indications of the Assembly election outcomes and its impact on the crucial General election in 2024. The exit polls and the actual poll results will be closely monitored by investors.
Over the past month, the Indian stock indices have risen about 4-5 per cent on a cumulative basis.
On the domestic front, investors now also await the second-quarter GDP data, due on Thursday and the S&P Global Manufacturing PMI later on Friday. India's GDP growth for the June quarter came at 7.8 per cent.
"Global cues are supportive with positive news from the mother market US where growth is strong and inflation is trending down. India's Q2 GDP numbers expected today will be better than expected. If these good macros are supported by today's exit poll results coming in tune with market expectations, a rally to record highs can happen soon," said VK Vijayakumar, Chief Investment Strategist at Geojit Financial Services. (With inputs from agencies)
The Kasturba Marg police have arrested a 21-year-old man for allegedly tampering with ATMs in order to steal cash. The accused, Himanshu Rakesh Tiwari, would glue the money dispensing slot shut, preventing users from withdrawing cash and would grab the notes once the person left. The arrest was made less than an hour after Tiwari tampered with an SBI ATM on MG Road in Borivali East on Monday.
Shafiq Salim Shaikh, 34, the owner of a tour and travel business, had attempted to withdraw cash from the ATM at 12.29 am. Upon realising that the machine had been tampered with as money was not being dispensed despite the machine indicating otherwise, Shaikh immediately alerted the bank via its helpline. The Kasturba Marg police were contacted by the bank officials, who promptly arrived at the scene.
Himanshu Rakesh Tiwari, the accused; (right) A screengrab of footage of the alleged thief at work
The cops requested CCTV footage of the ATM centre between 6 pm on Sunday and 12.30 am on Monday. After reviewing the footage, the authorities identified the accused. Following his trail with the help of traffic CCTV camera footage, it was discovered that Tiwari had visited a travel agency in Borivli East after the theft. He was attempting to book a ticket to Gujarat when the police apprehended him.
“Upon searching Tiwari’s belongings, we found Rs 5,000, the amount that Shaikh had attempted to withdraw, along with a box full of Fevikwik glue.Tiwari would apply glue to the dispensation slot. When his victims would leave, thinking the machine was not working, he would access the slot and retrieve the cash using a blade or cutter,” said a police officer from the Kasturba Marg police station. Under the guidance of DCP Smita Patil and Senior Inspector Anil Avhad, API Om Totawar and his team nabbed Tiwari, who was held under Sections 379 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code.
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“We suspect that Tiwari is part of a large gang that employs the same modus operandi not only in Mumbai but also in other places and states including Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh where the accused hails from. He had committed more than four such offences in the past,” the officer added. Another officer said, “We are questioning Tiwari to determine the extent of their operations and how many more ATM centres have been targeted in Mumbai and neighbouring areas.”
Commuters on Bandra and Kurla bus stops were disappointed on the first day of the new swanky AC electric double-decker bus as it can neither go to Kurla station nor Bandra station or terminus, the original 310 route, on account of its height and other technical issues. The new AC electric double-deckers are taller than the old double-decker buses. In what is being termed a waste of resources, two different types of buses—10 new double-deckers on a limited route and the regular single-deckers on the full 310 route—have been pressed into service.
“Isn’t this a blunder? Don’t they realise that they are having to run two different sets of buses for the same route — one that ends mid-way and the other that plies on the remaining route where the double-decker can’t go?” said Raman Kumar Baneshwar, a regular commuter on the route.
“The actual rush is at Kurla and Bandra stations. If the new swanky buses do not go there, it is a waste of resources. How did this happen in the first place? The buses are customised for the BEST. The BEST should have studied the bus designs properly and asked manufacturing companies to maintain the height strictly as per the height of earlier buses,” said commuter Dr SN Gorakh.
Double-decker’s limited route
At the Kurla end, the double-decker bus takes a U-turn near BKC Telephone Junction and at the Bandra end, it terminates at the bus station opposite Bandra court. Despite these limitations, buses were filled during morning and evening rush hours. A separate set of single-decker buses picked up passengers from the crowded Kurla station.
“The height of the new AC double-decker bus is 4.75 m, while the height of the old double-decker was approximately 4.38 m. The problems are being witnessed at the two-deck bridge on Santacruz Chembur Link Road. Hence, the new double-deckers have been restricted till BKC MTNL bus stop,” a BEST official said. The buses are stabled at Kurla bus depot and Bandra station.
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“The BEST Undertaking should request the team of Switch Mobility to decrease the height of the double-decker buses if possible for seamless operations. Otherwise, the BEST will need to return to the drawing table to reassess all its earlier doubledecker bus routes. That will be a massive task, a waste of resources and time-consuming,” said bus fan Shubam Padave.
“Apart from route 310 (Kurla-BKC-Bandra), the height limitation on the SCLR junction flyover will also impact the crowded double-decker routes 313 (Kurla-Santacruz) and 332 (Kurla-Andheri). Commuters on all routes will struggle to reach Kurla station West,” Padve added. Officials said that, currently, the BEST has 49 air-conditioned double-decker buses (including three in the registration process), with 25 operating in south Mumbai. There are plans to introduce the remaining 14 buses in the suburbs.
4.75mHeight of the new AC double-decker
4.38mHeight of the old double-decker
Eight people were injured after several houses collapsed following an LPG cylinder explosion in Chembur on Wednesday morning. Two of the injured, belonging to the same family, are currently under treatment. According to the Mumbai Fire Brigade officials, one of the houses in the Old Barrack area near Chembur Camp collapsed on another one, causing the cylinder blast.
After the blast, two to three more houses collapsed. The incident occurred around 7.50 am and the structures involved were ground-plus-one-storey houses. “We are going to conduct a routine inquiry into the incident,” an MFB official said.
Meanwhile, the MFB rescued 11 people who were trapped in the houses, most of them with minor injuries. As per the disaster report, eight people were sent to the civic-run Centenary Hospital (Shatabdi) in Govandi. Of these, six were treated and discharged while Sunandana Nirbhavane, 49, and Manoj Nirbhavane, 54, are being treated for burn injuries.
Also read: Mumbai: Green toll for vehicles using Aarey Road soon
Sunandana suffered 80 per cent burns and was sent to the civic-run Lokmanya Tilak Hospital in Sion for treatment while Manoj who suffered 35-40 per cent burns is being treated in the incentive care unit of a private hospital. Of those discharged, Ashok, 27; Rohit, 29; Vikash, 50; and Savita, 47, belong to the Aambore family while the other two were identified as Rahul Kamble and Parth Sing.
7.50 AMApprox time of collapse
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) reduced the cleaning frequency of public and community toilets from five times to two times for deeper cleaning. Initially, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde had ordered five daily cleanings, but due to cost considerations after assessing ward reports, the BMC opted for deeper cleaning twice a day.
Expenses encompass manpower water requirements. Representation pic
Earlier, Shinde’s inspection on October 3 prompted the directive for five daily cleanings. Wards even floated tenders for this frequency, detailing cleaning and disinfection protocols. As per the tender floated by M East ward, it specified cleaning and disinfection of 211 toilets at least five times a day. The tender required contractors to submit daily photographs of all toilets and maintain paper records with the signatures of local people during work. However, practical limitations led to the adjustment to two times deep cleaning.
“It’s not feasible to clean toilets five times a day. After much discussion, we formalised the proposal for cleaning them twice daily, and funds will be transferred to the wards in a week or two,” stated a senior BMC official. The cost of cleaning will be determined at the ward level. A ward official mentioned the impracticality of cleaning toilets so frequently, citing the need for manpower and materials like jetting machines, safety gear, toilet cleaners, and utilities such as water and electricity.
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Another ward officer said, “Even during the pandemic, toilets were cleaned six times daily for hygiene, with the BMC offering assistance by providing sanitary products.” A toilet operator expressed difficulties in collecting monthly contributions from residents and highlighted the substantial costs of electricity and water bills. He emphasised the need for support from the corporation to maintain cleanliness and disinfection.
Despite the BMC commissioner approving funds for twice-daily cleaning, there isn't a clear formula for the cost. The expenses encompass manpower, materials, and water requirements, and the fixed cost will vary by ward, said an official.
2No of times public and community toilets will be cleaned daily
The forest department has proposed a proactive measure to counter the effects of vehicular emissions on the ecologically vital Aarey forest. The administration intends to implement a ‘green toll’, charging non-Aarey residents who commute through the eco-sensitive zone. Every day, more than 25,000 vehicles use the Aarey Milk Colony route, which links Goregaon on the Western Express Highway to Powai and Marol.
An official from the forest department said on condition of anonymity, “On a daily basis, hundreds of vehicles drive through the main Aarey Milk Colony road, which traverses the eco-sensitive Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), contributing significantly to air pollution in this environmentally crucial region. To solve this issue and reduce the number of vehicles entering the zone, we propose implementing a green toll for vehicles taking this route. The SGNP authorities are in the process of informing the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) of this intention, as the main route is under its authority.”
Wildlife lovers, nature enthusiasts and locals staying in the colony have been demanding that traffic needs be regulated as vehicles not only cause air pollution but also pose a huge threat to wildlife, including the apex predator of this forest—the leopard. In the past, there have also been instances of wildlife getting killed while crossing the road. While constructing the cement concrete main road, the BMC put in place wildlife crossings, based on the suggestions of the forest department.
Old toll story
Before 2014, the Aarey Milk Colony administration use to collect toll from motorists using the main road through the state public works department (PWD). However, since August 2014, the practice was stopped after the seven-km-long road came under the jurisdiction of the BMC.
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The contractor or the toll operator who used to collect the toll on this road had to pay Rs 1.61 lakh to the Aarey dairy department every day as per the terms and conditions of the contract. Sources from PWD had told this newspaper that in 2014, approximately 25,000 vehicles used to ply on this road and the revenue generated from them was about R3.5 lakh per day. This implies that the profit earned by the contractor was Rs 1.89 lakh daily, and roughly Rs 6 crore a year.
Greens welcome move
Activist Zoru Bhathena said, “We are very pleased to see that the forest department is taking necessary steps to regulate vehicular traffic passing through the Aarey forest. A forested area should never be used as a traffic shortcut and so we welcome the plans of the forest department to charge a toll.”
Wildlife Conservationist Kedar Gore from the Corbett Foundation said, “Unless the toll is steep, people may not avoid this road as it offers traffic connectivity between the western and eastern suburbs. Even after paying tolls, speeding will not stop unless speed cameras are installed and offenders are fined regularly. The better option would be to put up mitigation structures, which would be more effective in preventing mishaps and ensuring the safer passage of wildlife.”
Environmentalist Stalin D from the NGO Vanashakti said, “This is a most welcome step. There should be attempts to reduce traffic and pollution in Aarey. Let us not forget that the roads till recently were always toll roads. Even a levying minimum charge is welcome. Tribals can be provided with free passes for two-wheelers registered in Aarey. The rest must pay to use roads inside the forest.”
25,000No of vehicles using the Aarey Milk Colony road
2014Year when PWD toll on the road was discontinued
7 kmLength of the Aarey road
The city police force has been grappling with a 30 per cent overall staff vacancy, but a major cause of concern is the shortage of staff in crucial departments including the traffic police department which has a 34 per cent vacancy and the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) which faces a staggering 47 per cent vacancy. Despite these departments handling pressing issues for Mumbaikars, it appears that addressing these vacancies is not a government priority. Meanwhile, Mantralaya, housing administrative offices and the Chief Minister's Cabinet have 34 per cent more staff than sanctioned, the response to an RTI query revealed.
According to the response to the RTI query filed by activist Jeettendra Ghadge, there is a huge disparity between different units of the Mumbai police force. The reply made a shocking revelation that the Mantralaya security, responsible for safeguarding the state government's administrative headquarters, operates with 34 per cent more junior police staff than the sanctioned strength (sanctioned-385; working-519). In contrast, the traffic police, responsible for ensuring the smooth flow of traffic in the city face a severe shortage, with 34 per cent less personnel than the sanctioned number (sanctioned-3,835; vacant-1,326). A similar situation is observed in the Economic Offenses Wing (EOW), where 47 per cent of junior police officers' positions are vacant (sanctioned-346; vacant-164). Notably, the LA-5 Kole Kalyan unit experiences the highest vacancy rate at a critical 90 per cent (sanctioned-1,003; vacant-902).
A Praja Foundation report states Mumbai police is facing an overall 30 per cent staff shortage. File pic
Addressing the issue of vacancies in the traffic department, a senior traffic police officer stated, “The vacant positions pose serious concerns for traffic management, but the existing staff is working diligently to handle the city's traffic. A recent recruitment drive has concluded and the new recruits are undergoing training, a process that will span another two years before they officially join the police department. Additionally, we've recently brought in staff from the Maharashtra Security Force (MSF) to help address the crisis.”
According to a Praja Foundation report, out of the 52,044 sanctioned police personnel posts, only 36,425 had been occupied, resulting in a 30 per cent shortage of personnel. The overall shortage in police personnel has increased from 28 per cent in 2022 to 30 per cent in 2023.
The report highlights a significant 59 per cent vacancy in the crucial technical department which provides support to police investigations, with only 2,416 out of 5,846 sanctioned posts filled. Similarly, the special branch (II), responsible for passports, operates with 30 per cent less staff, resulting in citizen complaints about passport delays. Joint Commissioner (law and order) Satya Narayan Chaudhary has addressed the passport delay issue through a special drive.
Meanwhile, the crime branch, handling serious crime cases, faces a 26 per cent staff shortage and the city police control room operates with a 24 per cent staff deficit, putting extra pressure on working staff. Additionally, the armed forces reported a 25 per cent staff shortage, while security and protection face a 39 per cent deficit, and the motor transport department operates with a 59 per cent staff shortage. The report also shows a 28 per cent shortage in supervisory level officers, including additional commissioners, DCPs (deputy commissioner), ACPs (assistant commissioner), PIs (police inspector) and APIs (assistant police inspector).
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As per information obtained through RTI, 20 per cent of the DCP positions, often occupied by Indian Police Service (IPS) officers, remain vacant (sanctioned-42; vacant-8). Additionally, 20 per cent of police sub-inspector roles, which play a pivotal role in crime-solving and criminal prosecution, are unoccupied (sanctioned-1,978; vacant-404). The situation is particularly dire in the crucial South Zone, the heart of the city and home to numerous VIP residents, where a staggering 43 per cent of lower-rank police force positions remain unfilled (sanctioned-4,295; vacant-1,847).
Activist Jeettendra Ghadge of the Young Whistleblowers Foundation pointed out that “the government's priorities are clear, given that it has prioritised Mantralaya and VIP security over managing Mumbai's traffic. Junior police staff are the foot soldiers who play a crucial role in maintaining Mumbai's security. However, due to Mumbai's growth in recent decades, the sanctioned strength is insufficient. The government should prioritise the safety and security of its citizens over its own and urgently fill the vacant posts”.
Sources in the police department said that recently they have written to the government to seek 3,000 personnel from the MSF to manage the crises but have got only 600 in the first batch while 300 were given to the traffic police department and others were deployed to the local arms unit. “Recently 8,000 personnel have been recruited and now they are undergoing training which will take two years to get them posted in the department. In the Mumbai police force, every year around 1,500 constabulary rank personnel get retired and by the next two years, we will have 3,000 vacancies created. The government keeps having recruitment drives but the process is long,” said a senior officer from Mumbai police.
90%Vacancy rate in LA-5 Kole Kalyan unit
In an intensified fight against the child-selling racket, Mumbai Crime Branch’s Unit 09 has rescued two more toddlers, making it a total of four saved children. Three more individuals were arrested, raising the accused count to 11. Sources reveal over 30 babies suspected to have been sold, with some now aged between five and 10 years.Officials are carefully handling legal matters to rescue these children from their illegal adoptive parents, considering the potential stress on the kids from a sudden rescue. In a recent breakthrough, the crime branch successfully rescued a 29-day-old newborn, suspected to have been stolen by a gang, as the mother remains untraceable. The child was found in Chiplun. Another case involved the rescue of a fourteen-month-old baby girl from Bhiwandi. An officer from Unit 09 said, “We suspect the arrested gang’s involvement in child theft, considering their silence about the 29-day-old baby’s mother, whom we are still trying to locate.”
According to Unit 09, three females—Tabassum Sain, 42, from Ratnagiri, Safiya Ali, 42, from Grand Road, and Sanobar Chiplunkar, 29, from Ratnagiri—were identified. Ali and Sain were arrested for acting as agents, receiving commissions of Rs 50,000 and Rs 35,000 for facilitating the sale of a 29-day-old baby boy. Chiplunkar was arrested for purchasing the baby for Rs 2.5 lakh. Authorities found numerous toddler pictures on Ali and Sain’s phones, hinting at involvement in a larger child-selling racket, including child theft cases.
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Led by Sr PI Daya Nayak, the team conducted raids in Chiplun, Virar, and Bhiwandi, rescuing two more children. The second baby girl was saved in Bhiwandi, where previously arrested suspect Ashfaque Shaikh alias Sahil had sold his minor daughter to Rohini Shirke, 63, of Bhiwandi. Shirke, believed to have a mental illness, is under further investigation. The rescued minors are being placed in St Catherine Orphan Home in Amboli, Andheri, following orders from the Child Welfare Committee (CWC).
Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is awaiting response from private hospitals to start a temporary hospital in the eastern suburbs. BMC issued an expression of interest in July 2023 but has yet to get a response from the hospital.
As BMC decided to redevelop the civic body-run Krantiveer Mahatma Jyotiba Phule at Kannamwar Nagar, Vikhroli, the administration decided to start a temporary alternative hospital facility in a private hospital. BMC first issued an expression of interest in July 2023. “We have decided to rent at least a 180-bed multispecialty hospital as an alternative to Phule Hospital.
BMC is willing to incur an expense of Rs 58,000 to Rs 60,000 per bed per month, a figure which has been arrived at based on the market rate,” a civic official said. The date of submission of expression of interest has been extended till December 10, 2023, the official said. “We will decide on the course of action if we do not receive an expression of interest till the final date... We have already started an 80-bed hospital in the municipal maternity facility at Tagore Nagar, Vikhroli,” the official said.
Also read: Mumbai: ‘State should protect public, not put them in prolonged agony’
The redevelopment of the Phule hospital is expected to take three years and BMC intends to provide the hospital service to the local population by renting an existing hospital, the official said. mid-day has been regularly reporting on the issues related to this hospital in the eastern suburbs. The civic body had shut down the 100-bed hospital in 2018 after the building had been declared dilapidated. Initially, a 100-bed hospital was to be built at the site. But the BMC later decided to set up a 500-bed super-specialty hospital instead.
A video of Maharashtra School Education Minister Deepak Kesarkar rebuking a woman over her question about ‘delay’ in teachers’ recruitment went viral on social media on Tuesday. The incident took place in Beed when the minister was meeting some candidates for school teacher’s posts.
Kesarkar, who belongs to the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena, later said in his reaction that the woman was not following discipline during the interaction. In the video, the woman, apparently aspiring to be a government school teacher, is heard asking the minister about ‘delay’ in the recruitment process, and saying they are tired of waiting.
There was no advertisement about recruitment, she said, while the minister replied that every district has been instructed to issue an advertisement. The woman interrupted him and asked when will the advertisement be issued. Kesarkar was then heard telling her that if she continued to behave in indisciplined way, she can not get a government job.
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“I am as strict as I am affectionate. For me, my students are important. You are worried about the job and for that I made available 30,000 jobs but if you teach the same indiscipline to students, then I won't accept it,” the minister said. As she continued to speak, the minister warned that he will seek out her name and ask the officials to disqualify her.
NCP MP Supriya Sule criticised Kesarkar over the incident, and said Chief Minister Eknath Shinde should rein in his ministers. Kesarkar should apologise to the woman, she said in a social media post.
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The uncertainty over the redevelopment of buildings in Chheda Nagar has become a talking point among legal and real estate experts, who have expressed support for the residents. According to experts, the State should protect the residents’ fundamental right to shelter and redevelopment. mid-day reported on the residents’ quandary on November 28. The 156-acre land has been under an ownership dispute since 1974, which has put the buildings’ redevelopment in doubt.
Advocate Shreeprasad Parab, expert director, Maharashtra State Housing Federation, said, “Right to shelter and redevelopment is a right to life, guaranteed in the Constitution. According to Chheda Nagar residents, development rights were provided to the housing societies in lieu of the registered conveyance deed of land that they procured from the Chheda family. The civic body, thereafter provided the required statutory permissions for the construction of buildings, almost five decades ago. The plight of these residents should not be ignored by the State. We appeal to the state government to come up with a solution at the earliest.”
Public welfare first
Citing the legal maxim, salus populi est suprema lex (welfare of the people is supreme law), Parab said, “Societies with buildings which are beyond repair can approach the Bombay High Court under writ jurisdictions for redevelopment/self-redevelopment. This would protect their Right to Life, as constituted under Article 21, which includes the Right to Livelihood. They can follow the same process to expedite the issue of title of the property, which has been languishing in the city civil court since 1978, as justice delayed is justice denied.”
Parab added that the State should focus on sustainable development, and the principle ‘rex non potest peccare’ (King can do no wrong), which is crucial to public policy. “The onus to ensure public welfare, by protecting residents’ rights to shelter, livelihood, and healthy and clean environment is on the State,” Parab said.
Meanwhile, when asked if the residents still need to seek permission for repairs, Advocate Parab replied in negative, citing the MCGM, Development Control Promotion and Regulation (DCPR) -2034 and under provisions of RERA.
CA Ramesh Prabhu, founder chairman of Maharashtra Societies Welfare Association (MahaSeWA), said, “I have never come across such a dispute created by the government in Maharashtra or India. It is painful that the title disputes in Chheda Nagar are still not resolved. The collector claiming ownership of the land after nearly 50 years of housing societies existing in Chheda Nagar is unfair. It is the government’s duty to protect the interests of innocent residents and housing societies. The state government should make a policy decision to quickly provide relief to senior citizens,” said Prabhu
Activist Salil Rameshchandra, president of the Federation of Grantees of Government Lands, said, “Chheda Nagar’s cooperative housing societies could have explored other methods instead of relying solely on the legal system. It often involves persuading individuals in positions of authority, who may be on opposing sides, to work towards resolving problems. While this approach may take time, it has the potential to yield lasting results.
Also read: You don't listen to court, at least listen to Parliament: Bombay HC to Maharashtra government
For instance, the collector’s order allowed existing societies to convert their lands to Occupancy Class-2 or lease lands. I had recommended pursuing reconciliation through the civil court. Some housing societies in Chheda Nagar, however, chose to challenge the collector’s order, leading to an unfavourable situation. Currently, applications for Class-2 status by those who opted to challenge the collector’s order are pending. Their names have been removed from property records. It is a challenging situation.”
“The housing societies could also have advocated for a policy addressing such disputes on contested lands. With a substantial number of voters and the support of MPs and MLAs, they could have sought help to meet the revenue minister and chief minister,” Rameshchandra said.
Rameshchandra said that apart from the deteriorating buildings and the time-consuming litigation, a major problem is the mutation of land ownership in revenue records, officially designating the State as the holder. “This would be an obstacle to redevelopment as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) relies on property cards to verify land ownership. To seek a way out, the civil court should be urged to restore the mutations that existed before the collector’s order.
Without this, the BMC will not recognise the housing societies as landowners. If any Housing societies is in dire need for redevelopment, then they should put a proposal for redevelopment to BMC as per the established procedures. In case the BMC denies approval, the housing societies can approach the high court for redress. The precedent set by the Hiren Bharani vs State of Maharashtra provides a legal avenue for such disputes. The residents can also approach the high court to expedite the ownership dispute,” Rameshchandra said.
1974Year ownership dispute began
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