It’s just inhuman. It’s also grave injustice. At the onset of monsoon, CIDCO and NMMC officials who have been sleeping over illegal encroachment for years have suddenly woken up from their deep slumber to take action. But this action is only against the poor living in slums and villages while the rich and mighty builders who have massively violated and made illegal constructed in malls, commercial complexes and high rises like those on palm beach road continue to elude any action. On weekend bulletin today, our top report is how demolition drives are snatching the roofs of the poor while the rich and mighty are having the last laugh.
“everyone is equal in the eye of the law” – it’s good to read it in books but do the people who have the responsibility of being law enforcers practice this. No they don’t. Atleast that’s what the demolition drives being conducted in Navi Mumbai make one believe. These demolition drives being carried out by CIDCO and NMMC are randomly demolishing hutments of the poor and pap homes without any uniformity or consistency. Every other day one can just hear of reports that encroachment actions are being taken. One day it is tatanagar, then the next time it’s Koperkhairane and then its kopri. The areas change but the allegations are the same. The worst expose however has been the allegation that CIDCO anti encroachment officer sumant bange has been making demands of crores of rupees and if the victims don’t pay up, their homes are demolished. And these allegations aren’t being made by just anybody but by corporators of the wards where action has been taken. Congress corporator vilas bhoir was the first to publicly allege that when people in his ward did not give in to sumant bange’s demand of rs. 45 lacs; bange demolished their homes.
And there is reason for vilas bhoir’s allegation. Within kopri village itself, there is no uniformity in action. Reason being that the building housing bawarchi restaurant is allegedly completely illegal. So are these two buildings, which according to local allegedly belongs to a local builder who is partner of one ward officer. Locals allege these illegal constructions within kopri village were spared while action has been taken only against illegal hutments.
In fact even the most neglected within the community, the third gender was not spared the action of CIDCO. Who doesn’t remember how they landed up in Thane Guardian Minister Ganesh Naik’s janta darbaar and shed tears of misery after having lost their homes? This isn’t the story of just kopri. All other targets chosen for demolition drives from digha to belapur have been the same – there is biased action, those who allegedly are rich and can afford to pay are spared while the poor are continuously being made homeless.
Another senior corporator who went on record to expose how demolition drives have becomes money extorting business is shivram patil. In the weekly standing committee, NCP corporator shivram patil did not hesitate to say that sumant bange demanded money and at the behest of builders demolished pap homes. Shivram patil demanded in the standing committee that the commissioner bhaskar wankhede intervene in demolition drives of CIDCO that have become money extorting business. The demolition drives have established that all laws and rules are for the poor while the rich and mighty go scot free.
Within a km of kopri, massive violations and illegal construction have been done by malls and then towers on palm beach road but allegedly the huge monetary bribes prevent action against them. According to senior journalist jayesh samant who has been highlighting that no action has been taken on illegal constriction by towers on palm beach road till date, says that corruption is the root cause of it all.
Meanwhile there is no one to hear the tragic tales of the poor or the inhuman conditions they are being forced to live in the middle of monsoon. Anyone who stops by their demolished homes, these poor people open their heart of helplessness and miseries to them. Who can then blame the poor if they believe that they are victims of a system that is bias towards the rich?
It is ironical that the votes of the poor form the vote bank of politicians in every election. But these very leaders disappear as authorities mercilessly demolish homes of the poor and safeguard the interest of the rich and the mighty. The million dollar question is who will stand up for the grave human rights violations against the poor who are living without homes on roads in the middle of monsoons?