HC questions Ulhasnagar civic body on illegal structures

The Bombay High Court was hearing a PIL that alleged rampant corruption prevailing in the corporation.

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has directed the Municipal Corporation in Ulhasnagar town of nearby Thane district to file an affidavit within four weeks stating what action it had taken against 110 illegal constructions sanctioned by the then town planner in 2010.

The direction was given by Justices VM Kanade and Rajesh Ketkar on Thursday on a PIL, after Maharashtra government informed the court that it had appointed Director of Town Planning in Pune to conduct a probe into the allegations about 110 illegal constructions.

The court was hearing a PIL that alleged rampant corruption prevailing in the corporation and claimed on the basis of RTI that 110 plans had been sanctioned illegally in 2010 in Ulhasnagar, a colony of displaced persons from Sind in Pakistan who migrated here after the partition of the country.

In 2005, the High Court, in another PIL, had ordered demolition of 855 buildings in Ulhasnagar which had come up in violation of DC rules and FSI.

The PIL, filed by Ravi Talreja and Hardas Tharwani, now being heard by the High Court, alleged that the then town planner AP Gurgule, in collusion with civic officials, had granted either permission or regularised 110 unauthorised structures in contravention of Development Control Rules.

Counsel for the petitioners, Jaiwant Chandnani, argued that the town planner had gone beyond his powers to sanction the 110 plans. He prayed for an independent agency to probe the alleged violations and take action against the guilty.

In view of several complaints, a civil court in Ulhasnagar had issued notice to the town planner and some officials of the Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation on February 15, 2010, on charges of mischief and forgery. After few days, the state government transferred Gurgule to Pune.

Gurgule then went on leave from October 19, 2010 to November 04, 2011 and it was during this period that he allegedly granted such illegal permissions, the petition said, on the basis of information gathered through RTI.

It was further alleged that Gurgule was found to be involved in criminal cases and the same were registered against him. He then absconded and applied for anticipatory bail in High Court, which rejected it after making observations against him about alleged forgery, the petition alleged.

The petitioners said they had learnt through RTI that Gurgule had sanctioned 110 illegal constructions either during his tenure or when he was on leave and said no inquiry had been conducted by the government, despite their plea made to the authorities several times in the past.