NMTV has been constantly reporting on how there is a complete biased approach toward action on illegal encroachment in the city. On weekend exclusive today, we bring to you the most glaring example of this. In the heart of Vashi, two commercial ventures, Four Points by Sheraton and Inorbit Mall have openly encroached on public space and are using it privately and yet both NMMC and CIDCO have turned a complete blind eye towards this. The encroachment has been brought on record for almost a month now by RTI activist Sandeep Thakur; but still NMMC and CIDCO for reason not hard to understand aren’t taking action against the violations by Four Points and Inorbit Mall.
In the heart of Vashi, stand two commercial complexes – Four Points by Sheraton and Inorbit Mall that are symbols of the corruption in CIDCO and NMMC and how rules are different for the rich and different for the poor. This is because both Four Points by Sheraton and Inorbit Mall have encroached on public space and despite both CIDCO and NMMC accepting that there has been massive encroachment by them, no action is being taken by either of the two government agencies that is quick to break the shelters of the poor and harasses the common man over the pettiest of issues in the name of rules and laws. The Four Points and Inorbit Expose has been made by RTI activist Sandeep Thakur. The gravity and magnitude of encroachment is understood when one takes a look at each of the two cases separately.
• FOURS POINTS BY SHERATON ENCROACHES ON PUBLIC SPACE
Four Points by Sheraton stands on a plot allotted to the influential builder group R K Raheja. The hotel does not have any right to create the entry and exit on this road or do the landscaping, yet they have encroached the public road and open space and are using it as if they own them. Anyone who visits the hotel assumes that Fours Points has the right to stop vehicles and check them at the entry. This is the fraud that the hotel is doing in broad day light.
When Sandeep Thakur approached CIDCO and NMMC over this fraud and encroachment, he was informed that in the year 2009, the hotel had asked NMMC for permission to create the exit and entry points for security of cricket players who were staying at the hotel for the IPL matches. But in the permission given then by NMMC, it was clearly stated that the hotel could put up a fence for maximum 15 days for a temporary basis. After 15 days, the hotel was ordered to remove the fencing and restore it to its original open space. However, the hotel misused this permission to encroach the open space. The bias approach of CIDCO and NMMC does not show only inaction against the hotel but also in the fact, that the hotel is not being charged or penalized for using the public space.
• INORBIT MALL ENCROACHES ON PUBLIC SPACE
The neighboring Inorbit Mall on the other hand has created a notorious record of sorts in terms of encroachments. The entry to the mall, the entry to the parking lot of the mall and the exit of the parking lot to the mall are all illegal. They have all been constructed on open space and public roads. Social activist Sandeep Thakur says it’s a mystery how Inorbit got illegal entrance from the plot by grabbing public place.
Even in the case of Inorbit, Raheja builders have neither been charged nor been penalized for encroaching the public space and public roads for private use. Sources allege that not just the entrances and exits, but even the portion sold to Hypercity in the basement of the mall is illegal and in complete violation of fire safety norms. Yet, the NMMC and CIDCO hammer is quick to reach the hutments of the poor while influential builders like the Raheja’s go scot-free. The day of filing this report, CIDCO officials accompanied Sandeep Thakur to the hotel and mall and confirmed that both were illegal encroaching public space. The RTI activist voiced confidence that come what may, he will see to it that the 5470 sq. mt space illegally encroached by Four Points and Inorbit Mall is opened to its original owners – the public !
Both CIDCO and NMMC show brutality and quick action when it comes to poor, helpless hawkers and slum hutments but when it comes to rich, influential and mighty builders like the Rahejas, authorities who have sold their conscience adopt a bias approach and turn a blind eye towards mass encroachments of public space like that seen at Hotel Four Points and Inorbit Mall. With bureau inputs, Sana Warsia for NMTV News.