HC puts on hold govt move to regularize Mumbai’s illegal buildings

Written By kom nampultig on Selasa, 14 April 2015 | 22.23

MUMBAI: In a setback to the Maharashtra government, the Bombay high court on Monday restrained the state and BMC from taking a final decision on regularizing over 56,000 illegal structures in the city. Hearing a public interest litigation filed by city resident Rajendra Thacker, a division bench of Justices Abhay Oka and Ashok Bhangale directed the state and BMC to reply within six weeks and not to take any decision on the issue during that period.

Advocate Sumedha Rao, counsel for Thacker, pointed out to the court that there was no mention in reports about whether the proposal to regularize the illegal buildings conformed to the guidelines laid down by the high court in 2004. "Nobody knows which are these 56,000 buildings that the authorities plan to regularize or what sort of violations are being condoned. Despite an RTI application, the authorities have not furnished a list of these buildings," said Rao. The petition has urged the court to ensure that the 2004 guidelines are followed and no regularization is permitted till the state gives time to citizens to submit their objections and suggestions.

As per BMC records, there are over 56,000 illegal structures in Mumbai housing around 15 lakh people. Last month, TOI had reported about BMC commissioner Sitaram Kunte submitting a report to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis with a proposal to regularize most of the illegal structures and demolish the others partially or completely. The report said that constructions where the balcony area or extended part of the legal constructions have been occupied could be compounded by charging additional fees, and norms could be relaxed for those falling in reserved or no-development zones. The state had reportedly given its in-principle approval for the scheme though it was scrutinizing it for legal implications, especially if it was in accordance with the Mumbai Regional Town Planning Act.

Thacker in his petition urged the court to order the state to reveal the details and whether it was in conformity with the 2004 HC guidelines. The 2004 guidelines were framed in an order that had come on an earlier PIL filed by Thacker, which had challenged a 2003 BMC decision to regularize 154 buildings in the city. The HC had in its guidelines said that structures that have violated FSI rules will not be permitted to be regularized unless it is allowed under the Development Control regulations. The civic authorities have to ensure that health, safety, fire and structural safety of the buildings and neighbourhood is not affected and had provided for compensation of affected residents as part of the premium.

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