Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Unauthorized Construction: How corrupt BMC officials defend land-grabbers against activists

28 March 2016: An activist friend named Abbaas Naqvi (9892000098) wrote in October 2012 about BMC's modus operandi of defending illegal constructions. Abbaas wrote from his experiences in Malad P-North Ward of BMC/MCGM, where he and other activists (such as Shahnawaz Shaikh 9867768070) were trying to get municipal officials to take action against illegal constructions (especially TV studios) sprouting in the area. Activists are fighting an uphill battle against BMC officials who take undue advantage of their official position. People are losing hope because authorities take no action against errant officials, even when written complaints and evidences are submitted. Civic officials are defeating the town planning by abetting illegal constructions violating Development Control Regulations. No-Development zones are goldmines for officers dealing with unauthorized construction.

Below, I am reproducing Abbaas‘ writings. As I am convinced that this is largely factual, I take full legal responsibility for writing it.

Experience of citizens who complain to BMC’s P-North Ward Building Proposal Dept. and/or Building & Factory Dept:
  • BMC officials fabricate lies, engage in buck-passing and misguide complainants to protect unauthorized construction and offenders.
  • The officials “fade“ the matter by lengthening the procedure of investigation etc. Matters are deliberately “faded“ with long delays, repeated instances of inaction or inadequate action, and ignoring complaints. BMC officials are getting away by bribing other authorities. Our civic body turns a blind eye to ongoing illegal construction activities, while tax-payers are deprived of basic amenities and facilities.
  • There is non-responsiveness and inaction fom BMC e.g. not issuing timely notice based on the complaint.
  • BMC officials take actions that are designed to fail e.g. issuing notice but not taking follow-up action.
  • BMC often adopts time-wasting tactics to allow statute of limitations to lapse due to inaction.
  • BMC uses loopholes i.e. take advantage of rules, laws and procedures to subvert the proper functioning of administrative machinery and lawful intent.
  • BMC officials cause mental & physical harassment i.e. malafidely use their authority and administrative machinery to cause fear, distress, inconvenience, loss of time etc. to the activist / complainant.
  • BMC officials target and victimize the complainants by taking selective action with malafide intent to persecute the complainant. If the complainant is persistent, he may receive implied threats to stop the follow up of complaint / RTI.
  • BMC and police collude to file false cases of extortion against persistent citizens, and brand them as "habitual complainers" or "professional complainers". Unofficial blacklists of such "complainers" are floated among municipal officials, damaging the credibility and social standing of the citizens named in the list. Those named in such lists find it difficult to get a police complaint registered even if they are physically attacked. They are discriminated against even at RTI appeal proceedings, and public information officers find it easy to get away with denying information in response to their RTI applications.

False cases of extortion are filed against persistent activists, and they are sometimes branded as "habitual complainers" or "professional complainers" by Mumbai police and municipal officials of MCGM. In return for these favours, the officials collect huge bribes, and the mafias are allowed to get away with the public loot!
Image: bit.ly/1MC4gvF

Tricks used by officials against activists:
  • BMC officials sometimes reply that site complained against is not traceable by them, and so, they invite the activist for a joint visit. During the site visit, the henchman of the land-grabbers or illegal construction mafia get a chance to surround, threaten and thrash the activist. 
  • Sometimes, BMC officials falsely claim that action has already been taken against the unauthorized / illegal construction. Such “actions” are an eyewash, enabling BMC officials to create fake records of “actions taken” in the Demolition Register. Demolitions are carried out in a half-hearted manner, and quite often, the contractors or builders / occupiers / owners are being forewarned about these “demolition drives”. Within few days of such “demolition drives”, the owner / contractor / builder / occupier rebuild and resume business-as-usual.
  • There are lots of cases where unauthorized work was detected but action not taken.
  • In other cases, action is taken but not pursued vigorously, defeating the intent of the law.
  • In many cases, actions is pursued in a defective way, so that it fails to yeild results. In other cases, the action is withdrawn or dropped unauthorisedly without competent sanction 
  • BMC officials are illegally parceling off open No-Development Zone plots and CRZ plots for unauthorized construction. Every success at land-grabbing further emboldens the land mafia-BMC official cartel.


Krishnaraj Rao
9821588114
Krish.kkphoto@gmail.com

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