Finally NMMC gathered courage to reach the towers of shame on Palm Beach Road to raze down illegal encroachment and FSI violations. However, at the end of it all, the hammers of NMMC only razed down two public toilet at Kshitij raising the million dollar question – Is the so-much-talked-about action against towers of shame on Palm Beach just an eye wash?
The high rises and towers on Palm Beach road have committed grave violations of GDCR norms, FSI theft and fire safety violations. When this was exposed through a RTI, pressure mounted on NMMC administration to take action. However, there was obvious reluctance by NMMC despite allegations that due to corruption officials and corporators were safeguarding the interest of builders. Finally when the issue was raised in the state legislature, the Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan ordered an enquiry into the violations done by builders who have constructed the high rises on Palm Beach Road. All along there were demands, that the responsibility of the investigations should be taken away from the Town Planning Office and handed over to a third party. This included Thane Guardian Minister Ganesh Naik as well.
But perhaps, NMMC knew a third party enquiry would expose the nexus between builders and NMMC; that is why the town planning office investigated the violations. Soon notices were sent out to towers for violations. And finally NMMC gathered courage to reach the towers that were sent notices and began razing down the illegal constructions. The drama pursued for a few hours; at the end of which NMMC demolished only two common public toilets at Kshitij, one builder’s office at Vice Roy Park and a wall in another tower. When we questioned of this namesake action taken by NMMC, the ward officer had no convincing reply.
Meanwhile ignorant residents living in towers on Palm Beach Road are continuously being served notices by NMMC. These residents continue to behave ignorantly. Admitting that violations have been done in their homes, they question why are they being singled out. They are questioning why is NMMC is not serving such notices to residents all over the city. Social activist Sandeep Thakur says that how can one expect NMMC to take action against builders when builders are in fact running the Town Planning Office. He says that builders have so much black money that they can bribe anyone. Sandeep Thakur says that had there been no nexus between NMMC and builders, such builders would have been blacklisted but they are not.
Sources in NMMC, agree that the violations by towers on Palm Beach Road are higher than that the Town Planning Office has stated in its final report but the influence of the builders is so much on both officials and politicians, that the violations have been diluted to a few public toilets and one builder’s office. This is the reason why many believe that the action against towers on Palm Beach Road is only an eye-wash. With cameraperson Vinayak Dalvi, Sana Warsia for NMTV News.