Thane Municipal Corporation washes hands of illegal project

The Thane Municipal Corporation blatantly ignored environmental policies that protect the city’s mangroves and built the Anna Bhau Sathe Garden in the heart of it’s mangrove laden Kopri District. The Project was funded by an MLA fund and even more funds for the redevelopment of the same were announced at the last General Body Meeting.

In a strange twist, elements of the garden (like the recently installed open gym) are now disappearing and the TMC is vehemently denying any involvement at all in the garden and gym project. After banging on all Thane’s Civic authorities closed doors, Thane activists and citizens now write to the Chief Minister. An open gym has disappeared less than a month after it was started in a garden developed by Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) using MLA funds in Thane’s Kopri area. However, it was developed in the area where mangroves are located, making both the garden and the open gym illegal. While the TMC is not ready to accept the mistake, a recent general body meeting saw the authority clear a proposal of Rs 58.19 lakh for redevelopment of the same garden. Despite regular complaints and subsequent follow ups, local citizen activists are yet to receive an appropriate reply from TMC, the Collector office and the local police station.

They have now written to the Maharashtra Chief Minister seeking intervention. “As per the High Court’s order, no construction can take place within a 50-meter area around the mangroves, but still a garden named as ‘Anna Bhau Sathe Garden’ was developed in the area of mangroves by TMC. Later, an open gym was placed within the same garden. Now this gym has disappeared. Officials are not able take any initiative or responsiblity regarding this matter,” said Rohit Joshi, a citizen activist in Thane. According to the activist, the gym disappeared soon after a complaint was lodged at the Kopri police station about the illegal constructions.

The TMC has spent around Rs. 10 lakh for developing the garden and gym, but now refuses to acknowledge they were developed by them. “However, the TMC has cleared a proposal for the redevelopment of the same garden by sanctioning Rs. 58.19 lakh in its last general body meeting,” Joshi added. While the group of citizen activists from Matadata Jaagran Abhiyan, Thane, has raised questions like how the Thane Collector permitted development of a garden in a mangrove area, followed by an open gym, and now the re-development of the same land. The same issues have been raised in a letter to the state Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, along with the demand to set up an inquiry by the anti-corruption team.

Report by Priyanka Dhomse, Afternoon Despach & Courier, Friday, July 28, 2017

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