STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH
‘THE INTENT WAS NOT TO RENDER PEOPLE HOMELESS’
Says the Controversy Creator
Hari Tanwani “Nimano”
Shri. Ranjit Butani
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Date : 28th November 2005 @ 18.15 Hrs.
DEMOLITION OF 855 ILLEGAL BUILDINGS AT ULHASNAGAR!
FACTS AS CONTAINED IN MY PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION NO. 105 OF 2003
by : Hari Tanwani “Nimano”
I was delighted to read the cover story of Sindhishaan (Quarterly), published in its issue No. 3, July – September 2005 captioned as “Sindhis In Ulhasnagar – Refugees in 1947 – Homeless In 2005?”, Mr. Ranjit Butani’s editorial “HOMELESS AGAIN” was very well written, interesting and quite thought provoking. It was timely too. I had then decided to congratulate Mr. Ranjit Butani for his courage and conviction in showing the right path to the members of Sindhi Community spread all over with a view to create awareness among them as also express their solidarity with the residents of Ulhasnagar and ensure all avenues which need to be explored for evolving a reasonable, just and permanent solution and see that JUSTICE PREVAILS. But, unfortunately, due to paucity of time at my disposal, I could not extend him then my whole-hearted compliments to Mr. Ranjit Butani. I accomplish this job now. “Better Late, Than Never.”
The aim of this article / write-up is not to go into the merits and demerits of the interviews published in Sindhishaan’s July – September 2005 issue, but to inform it’s readers in nutshell about the fuller facts as contained in my Public Interest Litigation No. 105 of 2003 which was filed by me in the Hon’ble High Court, Bombay on 1st September 2003 in the subject-matter of unauthorized constructions and the other relevant issues of Ulhasnagar.
Purpose of My Public Interest Litigation :
At the very outset, I would like to mention here briefly that the purpose of my PIL was to ensure (a) To maintain Rule of Law in Ulhasnagar as on the date, (b) To check, curb and control the growth of on-going illegal constructions and put them to a complete halt and (c) To improve upon the basic infrastructure related to the areas like abundant water supply, uninterrupted supply of electricity, sanitation and public health, widening of narrow roads as per sanctioned Development Plan of 1974, overcome upon the problem of traffic-mess, pollution free air and environment, etc.
To achieve these objectives, initially I wrote a 15 page letter to the then Hon’ble Chief Minister, Mr. Vilasrao Deshmukh on 29-1-2001, wherein all the burning issues of Ulhasnagar were taken up by me in the appropriate manner. The points narrated were broadly as under: - Poor Sanitation – A Great Public Health Hazard, Acute Water Supply and Revision of Water Supply Rates, Unauthorized Constructions – A Blood Cancer of Ulhasnagar - Holding of Municipal School Board Election – A Big Mystery (This mystery is since resolved by holding the elections) – Looting of public moneys by the Corporators – Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation in the serious financial crises – Development process, Dead slow, But why? – Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation Commissioner’s incomptency and inefficiency – Appointment of Pingulkar Committee, It’s Cancellation and Thereafter – Nandlal Samiti’s Report, Recommendations and Action there upon, etc.
As a follow-up measure, another letter was also addressed by me on 16-4-2001 to the then Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation’s Commissioner, Shri K. P. Bakshi who was holding additional charge. The focus of this letter was on the subject-matter of illegal constructions being carried out at Ulhasnagar. I had elaborated therein several irregularities committed by Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation officials, concerning on-going 72 illegal constructions. I had also submitted to him a list of 53 on-going development works where the supervision of the architects was withdrawn while the works were still in progress.
Thereafter, again on 18-2-2003, I preferred to sent a letter to Mr. Sushil Kumar Shinde, the then Hon’ble Chief Minister. Here also I pin-pointed the non – performance of Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation with special reference to the Corruption, Nandlal Committee, Town Planning Department’s erroneous functioning and the present scale of unauthorized constructions in Ulhasnagar.
My correspondence with these concerned authorities did not stop there alone. On 17-3-2003, once again I wrote a letter to the present Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation Commissioner, Mr. Ramnath Sonawane and demanded action from him on several fronts related to the areas as referred to here-in-above. Besides, issues like development of Sadhu Vaswani Garden (Gol Maidan) and implementation of Non – Hawker Zones was also specially taken up by me in the said letter. Mr. Sonawane officially sent me an appreciation letter on 7-4-2003 and also assured me that he would do his best for the all round development of the city. However, his 3 year’s tenure here has proved him very unsuccessful on this count.
Prayers of My Public Interest Litigation :
My prayers in the main petition memo of PIL No. 105 of 2003 are very exhaustive and specific. Apart from demanding the demolition of 434 illegal buildings as contained in my Schedule No. 1 attached to the petition and pertaining to the recent period of January 2000 to March 2003, (for which the Hon’ble High Court, Bombay has not yet passed any orders), I have categorically demanded the registration of criminal offences and punishments under the Indian Penal Code against the Builders, Developers, Land Owners, Architects, Municipal and Government Officers, Implementation of Nandlal Committee Report, Dissolution of Body of Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation or its Supersession, Appointment of a full time Municipal Commissioner from fresh I. A. S Cadre and providing of adequate compensation as well as preparation of Rehabiliation Programme for the residents of 855 illegal buildings who are likely to be victimized on account of large scale demolitions to be carried out in view of the orders passed on 27-4-2005 by the Hon’ble High Court, Bombay. Infact, I have already demanded Rs. 100/- crores from the State Government for this purpose.
Surprisingly, in the list of 855 illegal buildings required to be demolished now, I have not given a single name thereof on my own. The list of 855 comprises of 3 separate lists, such as 598, 181 and 176; the first two have been prepared by Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation itself whereas the third one was pertaining to a separate Writ Petition No. 3718 of 1987 filed by Late Shri Namomal Santani which was since tagged to my PIL.
Excerpts Of My Telegrams :
Due to lack of mass awareness, unity and solidarity, no one came forward here in a desired manner to raise this public issue in time with the State Government and safeguard the public interests of those who are residing in the illegal buildings of Ulhasnagar. Considering the situation as very grim and injustice being meted out to the innocent buyers, I preferred to send a telegram to the then Hon’ble Chief Justice, Shri Dalveer Bhandhari on 30-9-2005 with a request to maintain ‘STATUS QUO’ till my PIL is heard and disposed of finally. Some of the excerpts of my telegram dated 30-9-2005 are reproduced hereunder:
“ Please recall that after passing of your order dated 27-4-2005 in my PIL No. 105 of 2003, I hade made my categorical submissions before you in person on 21-6-2005 that the said order has been passed in complete isolation of my prayers contained in para VII, clauses (a) to (j) of my main petition memo and other affidavits. That due to this, my 40 year’s long cherished career has been spoiled and consequent upon this, I am being projected as an enemy or villain for the residents of 855 illegal buildings of Ulhasnagar, which truly speaking I am not.”
“The observations made by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in various cases and quoted appropriately by you in the order dated 27-4-2005 are crystal and clear, viz. (1) The unscrupulous builders make profit and conveniently walk away (Page – 5, Para 20) having pocketed the money leaving behind the unfortunate occupants to face the music in the event of unauthorized constructions are being detected or exposed and threatened with demolitions. (2) The unwary purchasers of unauthorized structures should be adequately compensated by the builders (Page – 4, Para 6). (3) The arms of the law must stretch to catch hold of such unscrupulous builders. (4) Be that it may, the State Governments should think of levying heavy penalties on such builders and there from develop a ‘Welfare Fund’ which can be utilized for compensating and rehabilitating such innocent or unwary buyers who are displaced on account of demolition of illegal constructions (Page 6 – Para 25). (5) That penal action to be awarded to the municipal or government officials (Page 7) who have connived at unauthorized / illegal constructions apparently for illegitimate consideration (Page 5 bottom + Page 6 top). But, punishment to delinquent officers in accordance with the law seldom happens (Page 4). (6) It is not enough to direct the demolition of unauthorized constructions where there is clear defiance of law (Page 3 – Para 4).”
“By taking shelter of the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s directions given in the case of Friends Colony Development Committee v/s State of Orissa and others (2004 8 SCC 733), I had requested the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Maharashtra and all other concerned vide my application dated 24-5-2005 (Refer EXH. D, Pages 630 – 633 of the PIL) to first provide a sum of Rs. 100 crores by way of a Special Grant or a Long Term Loan (Free of Interest) to the Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation by announcing the ‘Relief Plan’ to provide adequate compensation and arrange for the rehabilitation program before carrying out the demolition of 855 illegal buildings. Paragraph No. 4 (Page 618) of my affidavit dated 20-7-2005 is a sharp pointer to this aspect of the issue.”
“Hence, implementing the order of demolition in respect of 855 illegal buildings from 1-10-2005 as contemplated by Respondent No. 1 shall be treated as an act of gross injustice being done to the larger public interest because it would render nearly 50 to 60 thousand people homeless.”
And subsequently, one more telegram was also sent by me to the Hon’ble Acting Chief Justice of High Court, Bombay on 19-11-2005, wherein I have once again focused the issue of rehabiliation, constrains of my security and non-providing of police protection to my family members, pick and choose policy of the Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation’s Commissioner in relation to the demolition work adopted for some vested interests, giving of a very wide and advance publicity in the national as well as local print media and thereby terrorizing all the citizens of Ulhasnagar, picture of on-going illegal constructions, appointment of Amicus Curie (2 Advocates) to assist the Hon’ble High Court, etc.
Myself – A Victim of Dirty Politics :
Thus, it would be evident from the fore-going that infact I have been made a “escape–goat’ in this PIL. There has been malicious campaigning going on continuously for past nine months against me, one of the officer in collusion with certain politicians, who are found guilty in the Nandlal Committee; have even filed false and fabricated civil and criminal cases against me in the lower courts with a view to defeat the purpose of my PIL.
Other Prominent Reasons :
Further, the plight of people in this part has also increased because there is lack of political will, determination and requisite action. Besides, the corruption is also a biggest factor and hindrance in resolving this matter. Again, the tug of war among Kalani and Bahrani factions too have done a great harm or damage to the people of Ulhasnagar.
Role Of The State Government :
The ball is now lying with the State Government. If the bureaucratic machinery of Mantralaya still awakens from its deep sleep, comes forward with sincerity and trustworthy action plan to resolve this issue, an amicable, just and permanent solution could still be worked out in this delicate and complicated matter. But, will the heads of Hon’ble Chief Minister, Hon’ble Deputy Chief Minister or all the other concerned roll on this issue in time or they will wait till some human casualties take place at Ulhasnagar on account of carrying out of the demolitions of 855 illegal buildings, is still to be seen.
And finally, before I conclude, I also express my unconditional and sustained support in whatever form or manner, I may be called upon from the affected residents of 855 illegal buildings, I shall do so without any fear or hesitation. May God help them, unite them and give them strength so that they can fight bravely against the injustice being meted out to them.