To keep encroachers away from the beach, the city collector’s office has continued its demolition drive at Girgaum chowpatty. The collector has decided to continue the drive, which was started last week, at regular intervals by taking stock of the situation at the beach every fortnight.
“We noticed that many people, particularly hawkers and those who work at nearby offices, started constructing unauthorised make-shift dwellings. Later, they converted them into tin sheds. We served them notices, but to no avail. So, we took the help of the civic body and police to remove all these illegal huts,” said Chandrashekhar Oak, city collector.
Oak also said that after razing the huts, many encroachers started living in the abandoned boats at the beach. “Local residents who go out for morning walks complained about this and we pulled and shifted all the abandoned boats with the help of the coast guards,” he said.
“These encroachers have made this beautiful beach dirty and it has become a hub of illegal activities,” said a Marine Drive resident requesting not to be named.
Oak said that removing these illegal huts become difficult as there is shortage of manpower. “We have got 35% of the posts vacant since long. We have urged the government to fill them up. Thus, for any action on the matter, we have to entirely depend on the BMC ward office. Only when they have time, they lend their team to us. As such, each time our action gets delayed,” he explained.
Nevertheless, to get rid of such illegal encroachment once and for all, the collector has decided to keep regular vigil over this beach. “If we suspect any illegal activity, we immediately take action. We will try to keep the beach safe and encroacher-free. We are also thinking to plant hundreds of trees at this beach. It will make it difficult for the encroachers to occupy the beach,” Oak added.