High Court hammering, authorities to crack whip on illegal constructions in Nagpur

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Nagpur: Following a hammering by Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court over the menace of unauthorised constructions in Nagpur district, top revenue officials have woken up and constituted a Joint Supervisory Committee to take corrective action.

The committee met at Nagpur Municipal Corporation, and included among others the Municipal Commissioner Radhakrishnan B, District Collector R Vimala, Chairman, Nagpur Improvement Trust and Commissioner, NMRDA, Manoj Kumar Suryawanshi, along with other officials on April 1.

During the hearing of a PIL about inaction on the part of authorities against unauthorised constructions in Nagpur city and metropolitan area, the Division Bench at the High Court had directed officials to hold a joint meeting and prepare an action plan which would be submitted to the court. The meeting finalized a plan to form a Joint Supervisory Committee consisting of Additional Municipal Commissioner (City), NMC, General Manager, NIT, Addl. Commissioner, NMRDA, and Deputy Collector (Nazul). They are tasked with supervising and directing authorities of NMC, NIT, NMRDA and Collectorate to crackdown on ever increasing unauthorised constructions in their respective jurisdiction.

After going through the High Court order, the committee also decided to categorise the unauthorised construction in four categories — A B C D — and found that there are about 10,753 cases of violations of building norms in the city and in the metropolitan area. As to action, only in minuscule cases respective authorities have acted, while most cases are either locked-up in civil suits or at Mantralaya level in appeals.

As to Category A constructions that are identified as violations, the officers decided to go ahead promptly with their demolition to comply with the court’s order. These are unauthorised structures to whom notices are already served under any of the Act and no legal impediment exists in their removal. For Category B-these are unauthorised structures wherein owners have filed appeals before State Government under Section 47 of MRTP Act, in Category C-unauthorised structures where court stay exists and in Category D are those unauthorised structures whose cases are pending with the Town Planning Department for revision of maps.

The Committee directed all the agencies to bifurcate the list of unauthorised structures under their jurisdiction as per above formula and submit the same to the Joint Supervisory Committee. The top officials also decided to request the State Government to adjudicate appeals from Category B unauthorised structures at the earliest with a suggestion to reject them as they are direct appeals under Section 47 of MRTP Act. Such appeals are a violation of law as there is provision of appeal under Section 44 of MRTP Act. For Category C appeals, the respective Law Department would take necessary steps to request concerned Courts to adjudicate cases pending before it to curb the menace of unauthorised construction to some extent. Similarly for Category D unauthorised structures, the respective Town Planning Departments were directed to dispose of applications within a period of 30 days from date of receipt of the application. Similarly, these departments are also directed to dispose of all pending applications within a period of three months.

Taking cue from the directions of HC, the committee also put in place a mechanism wherein regular checks would be done to prevent coming up of unauthorised constructions. Assistant Commissioners of 10 Zones of NMC, four Executive Engineers of NIT and four Divisions of NMRDA were directed to conduct weekly review and submit a report of action taken to the Joint Supervisory Committee. The JSC will collate and take monthly review and submit status reports to Municipal Commissioner, District Collector, Chairman, NIT, and Commissioner, NMRDA, respectively.

The committee is also tasked with formulating a Standard Operating Procedure to ensure that in future unauthorised constructions do not come-up. Also the field officers are directed to scrupulously follow the SoP and submit the report on a weekly basis.

The High Court’s direction came on a PIL filed by Ajay Tiwari regarding mushrooming of unauthorised constructions in city and rural parts of the district. The division bench had directed all top officials to hold joint parleys and resolve the issue.