Bombay HC: Mumbai is the only city where encroacher is given free housing

Representative imageThe Bombay High Court Monday referred to the rampant illegal constructions in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). It said that the situation was "out of control" and that the Maharashtra government should not allow people to die.Chief Justice Dipankar Datta, Justice GS Kulkarni and others were referring to Maharashtra's slum rehabilitation policy that provided statutory protection against demolition or eviction for slum tenements built before January 1, 2000 and not higher than 14-foot.The bench observed that the collapse of a Malwani residential building on June 9 was the result of "pure greed"; it suggested that the authorities of the state should look to the "Singapore model of housing for the poor""It's only in Mumbai that one can encroach on government land, and in return one is given free housing. Justice Kulkarni, the Chief Justice of West Bengal, said that such a policy does not exist in West Bengal.The bench presided over a number of public interest litigations it initiated suo motu (on their own) after incidents of building collapses in Bhiwandi, Thane district, last year.After a devastating building collapse in Mumbai's Malwani suburb, 12 people including eight children died, the HC began hearing the pleas last month.The HC had ordered a judicial investigation into the Malwani incident. A preliminary report stated that the residential building that fell was originally a ground-plus one structure.According to the report, additional floors were illegally added to the structure. The original owner of the structure wasn't known.Senior counsel Aspi Chinoy appeared on Monday for the Brihanmumbai municipal corporation (BMC). She stated that many tenements located in notified slums throughout the city had illegally added floors."Slums are not only a problem, but essential to the city's functioning. Chinoy stated that even though the state may allow ground plus one floor in notified areas of slums, it must stop further floors to avoid collapses.However, the bench said that the city's working population doesn't need to live in slum tenements. The state could take inspiration from the "Singapore model," which provides housing for the poor."The situation is out of control. We can't allow people to die. The HC stated that we must value human life. It stated that people who claim they don't have a place to call home shouldn't be permitted to stay in illegal structures or risk their lives just because they say so.According to the MMR's existing slum rehabilitation provisions, residents of slums constructed before January 1, 2000 are legally protected. They can't be removed without a rehabilitation tenement."In the case of Malwani, there is no documentation to prove who was the original allottee. There is no way to verify. It is pure greed," HC stated."The original allottee, an encroacher on government land, received the ground floor free of charge. It said that he then built additional floors vertically and let them go on rent to satisfy his greed. On Tuesday, the hearing will be continued by the HC.