Activists, on the other hand, reiterated that several illegal structures have come up mostly in Ghansoli ward. In sector 21, new illegal shopping units have come up despite media highlighting this issue in the recent past.
Talking to TOI, the civic commissioner Bangar said: “I have regularly taken official meetings with all the ward heads to discuss ways to minimize the menace of illegal constructions and encroachments. At present, we are focusing more on illegal commercial structures like shops and buildings, in order to demolish the same. If they are on Cidco or MMRDA land, then these agencies are taken on board to carry out demolitions.”
Bangar further said: “NMMC will soon start filing criminal cases in police stations against those doing illegal constructions and encroachments so as to tackle the problem. Earlier, the civic body was also putting up notices on illegal buildings in order to make the public aware of the same and prevent them from investing there. However, these notices were unlawfully removed by those who had vested interests. Hence, we will now be filing police cases.”
When told about rampant illegal constructions in Ghansoli, such as at sector 21, close to Bhumi Palace, where over 30 shops have sprung up recently, Bangar said that he will inquire into the issue.
Activist Sanchu Menon, who has been consistently complaining about illegal structures in the city, including at Ghansoli, commented: “Recently, the high court had rapped the municipal body of Vasai-Virar for failing to curb the issue of over 9000 illegal structures in their jurisdiction. NMMC should therefore pull up their socks and send out a very tough message to all that illegal constructions will not be tolerated. For this, the local wards must show the will and courage to act against encroachers by not succumbing to corruption and political power play.”
RTI activist Rajeev Mishra, who had earlier filed a petition in the Bombay high court against illegal buildings in Navi Mumbai, reiterated that NMMC must quickly attend to all citizens’ complaints on this subject, so that the problem can be nipped in the bud.
Citizens have also pointed that besides encroachment on public lands, several healthy and green trees are also illegally hacked by criminal elements who want to build structures, which therefore also harms the environment.