‘What is the logic?’: Bombay HC questions move to follow 1998 govt decision of exempting buildings from demolition during monsoon
The Bombay High Court on Thursday questioned Maharashtra government as to why the 1998 Government Resolution (GR) that restrained civic bodies from demolishing unauthorised structures during monsoon season was still being implemented and why a similar decision was taken last year.
The court, which was hearing a plea by three Thane residents who had sought demolition of nine “unauthorised” buildings in Mumbra area to avoid loss of lives in the event of a mishap, said that a building collapse might take several lives and it “did not want even one innocent person to die” in such an incident.
“Is demolishing an unauthorised building riskier during the rains? What is the logic behind such a decision (GR)?” the court asked during the pre-lunch session.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Makarand S Karnik was hearing the plea, which included Santosh Bhoir, a state witness in the 2013 Lucky building collapse in which nearly 76 people had died.
Advocate Neeta Karnik told the bench that even though the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) had sent several notices for demolition and to vacate the unauthorised structures, residents continued to live there. She said that despite the civic body having cut off power and water supply, the residents managed to access the same through illegal ways.
Senior advocate Ram Apte for TMC said that the civic body had sent several demolition notices to the nine buildings. However, the occupants had refused to vacate the same citing the 1998 GR, he added.
Karnik said that the buildings in question were dilapidated and unfit for human dwelling. On an average, every flat would house seven families as a “modus operandi” to avail alternate homes through government schemes, Karnik added.
The petitioner referred to 1995 HC judgment in Sopan Maruti Thopte case after which procedures were laid down for civic bodies for demolition of unauthorised structures or granting extension and said that 1998 GR was not in consonance with the said verdict.
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