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Encroachment at doorstep

Friday, 20 June 2014 - 7:05am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Byculla locals fight against an illegal encroachment that has mushroomed in the fire exit of their buildings
  • Salman Ansari dna



Residents of 51-C Haji Mohammad Court and 49 Habib Park on Clare Road have been relentlessly fighting against an illegal store called ilog, a retail clothing store that has been thriving in the open space between the two buildings. That area is in fact a fire exit for both properties. Besides being illegal, the store owner had built a horizontal aluminium fencing/grill capturing the remaining open space of the fire exit. This was demolished recently after a City Civil Court order.
According to some residents, this open space was unoccupied a few decades ago, till a man set up a small table and started a selling cold drinks. Over two decades, he gradually expanded, and now a concrete store stands there. Senior citizen, Ema Basu, says, "It is unbelievable how he blatantly built these grills and occupied the remaining open space. This encroached upon our privacy and I do not understand what the authorities had been doing all this while."
It is very surprising that this structure is still standing tall, despite BMC issuing a demolition order in September 2011,as this illegal structure is constructed over manholes. The encroacher has sealed these manholes, thus completely blocking the drainage system and making the area very unhygienic.
Shabbir Rangwala, resident of Haji Mohammad Court, shares, "A structure over manholes is strictly prohibited under section 238 and 240 of the BMC Act, 1888. Hence, due to the upcoming monsoon, the entire sewage coming from Christ Church High School in the vicinity will cause a serious health risk to the people living around the area."
The store is illegal and its existence shows the authorities' inaction. It is only after the tenants protested that they are being forced to take action. The BMC served a notice to ilog to remove the fencing, but Abdul Rauf Memon, who currently occupies the store, got a stay order from the court. Post two-hearings, the court gave an order to demolish the fencing.
The tenants, have been unanimously pursuing this case and have been running from pillar to post to get answers. Though they fought and got the grills demolished, they are hoping that the entire store too, gets demolished soon. Rizwan Khan, another resident, shares, "It is so difficult to stay in such a confined manner. I hope the store is demolished soon. We are working professionals and in order to pursue this issue, we have had to miss work."
When asked about the ownership of ilog, Sanjog Kabare, Assistant Municipal Commissioner, E Ward said, "I am not sure who the owner is but will look into it."

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