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Navi Mumbai: NMMC fails to take action against alleged Bangladeshi immigrants encroaching plots in Sanpada neighbourhood

In November last year, the administration took some action, and a portion of the encroachments was removed. However, within a few hours, the alleged Bangladeshi immigrants were back.

Over 200 reminders, official complaints, assurances, minimal action and re-encroachment, it has become a norm for the life of a Mumbaikar who is trying to push the administration to remove Bangladeshi immigrants’ alleged illegal encroachment in Navi Mumbai’s Sanpada neighbourhood.

OpIndia published a report in April last year discussing illegal encroachments by Bangladeshi immigrants and how authorities were not acting upon them to get the land cleared. Since then, Twitter user Krishna, who raised the issue and filed an official complaint, has been running from pillar to post to get the encroachments removed, but no concrete action has been taken so far.

Speaking to OpIndia, Krishna said that after months of following up, until today (February 2, 2022), the administration had taken no concrete action. He added, “Though there is an update. After pressuring them for weeks, the district commissioner and ward officer shared a letter with me. In the letter, they said that the plot belongs to CIDCO and it is CIDCO’s responsibility to get the land cleared. However, we (NMMC) have cleared the plot.”

Krishna added after receiving the letter, he immediately contacted them and informed them there were three plots and only one belonged to CIDCO, and the rest two belonged to NMMC. However, they were silent on the other two plots. “I have provided the GPS location of the plots, so there is no confusion at all. But, still, there has been no response.”

Krishna added NMMC officials often tell him that illegal encroachment on CIDCO plot can be removed by NMMC as well, but no one was ready to say anything on record. He said, “CIDCO manages the urban development in the city, and NMMC manages the city. If there is any illegal construction or encroachment, even if it is on a CIDCO plot or any private plot, NMMC has the full right to demolish the construction. Who can forget how they entered Kangana Ranaut’s office and demolished the alleged illegal construction. They have the power, right? But they are not using it in this case.”

He added even if they do not want to demolish any illegal construction on CIDCO’s plot, at least they could have questioned them and fined them for not taking any action. However, they did not take any action against CIDCO for not removing the illegal construction from CIDCO’s property.

The vehicles with dubious numbers parked at the location

Krishna claimed that not only the illegal Bangladeshis are well settled at the location, but they have also started parking vehicles on the footpath. He shared photographs of several vehicles that were parked outside the plots on the footpath. He said, “I checked the numbers of the vehicles. They are either suspicious or do not exist, which is another security concern.”

OpIndia verified the claims about vehicles. We checked a few of them on Vahan Portal. When checked for MH**A**344, the details showed the insurance for the vehicle expired in 2010.

Details of dubious vehicles parked on the footpath near the plots where Bangladeshi’s have encroached.

The second number that we checked, MH43***44, showed the registration for the vehicle had expired last year.

Details of dubious vehicle parked on the footpath near the plots where Bangladeshi’s have encroached.

‘It has become impossible to walk on the footpath’

Krishna had mentioned there were encroachments at four locations that were Kesar solitaire PLOT 88, 5, Sector 19, Shiv Darshan apartment, Sant Gyaneshwar Road, Sector 16, Jaipuriar school, and MSEDL Sonkhar substation. Speaking to OpIndia, Krishna said in the last six years, the number of illegal settlers has increased exponentially. “So much so, the area started to feel unsafe,” he added.

When we last reported about the issue, the complainant had informed that Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NNMC) Abhijit Bangar took cognisance of the issue and roped in his team to address the concerns raised by him. Every time he sought the status of the complaint he had made concerning illegal encroachment, he was assured that action would be taken in the matter. However, months after filing a complaint with the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation, the encroachments by Bangladeshi immigrants still existed.

Even now, the situation is almost similar. For example, In November last year, the administration took some action, and a portion of the encroachments was removed. However, within a few hours, the alleged Bangladeshi immigrants were back. Over time, Krishna has shared numerous photographs and videos with the administration with locations clearly marked, but his complaint keeps shifting desks every day. Krishna shared two videos of the spot that he shot on February 3, 2022.

He said, “Even in the beginning of the video itself, you can see that NMMC has facilitated the entrance of Bangladeshi by designing a space that helps easy access. Why will NMMC itself make such a boundary if their idea was to curtail access?”

Krishna said, “It has become almost impossible to walk on the footpath next to the encroachments. There are always over 50 men sitting on the sides. How can you feel safe in such a situation?” He has been following up with the administration, including the Chief Minister of the state, for months. Hundreds of emails, calls and follow-ups have passed, but his complaint keeps on getting forwarded from one officer to another. Every time he manages to talk to the concerned officer, he only gets assurances. “It is frustrating,” he said.

Krishna shared the video with OpIndia in which a woman could be seen washing clothes on the footpath. He said, “Now they have started using the public space openly without any fear.”

He also shared photographs of encroachers using water supply in a nearby park.

Encroachers using water from the park for daily needs.

According to Krishna, the previous commissioner of NMMC, Tukaram Munde, had kept these encroachers under control. However, in 2017, he was sacked from the post. After Munde’s removal, the number of encroachers increased exponentially under then-commissioner Annasaheb Misal. He said, “I filed a complaint at the time when Misal was commissioner. At first, he kept ignoring the complaint, but later, he asked his sub-ordinate to look into the matter.”

Krishna filed an RTI as well to get information on the action administration has taken in the matter. “It was only after the RTI, the department got into action, but it was only for the show.” He further added that the encroachments are increasing, and they did not leave a plot empty in front of a very famous eatery in the area.

NMMC claimed the land belonged to CIDCO

Krishna said, after he chased the new commissioner, Abhijit Bangar, over the calls, emails and social media, he finally replied and asked for exact details, which he provided. Soon, Bangar also stopped replying to Krishna’s mails and calls. His assistant informed Krishna that additional commissioner Amrish Patinigere would look into the matter, but things did not move ahead.

There was a time when NMMC claimed that the land where encroachment happened did not fall under the jurisdiction of NMMC but under the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO). Krishna said, “They kept asking to contact CIDCO verbally. I asked them to give me in writing, and I would stop bothering them. As per my knowledge, any construction that happens in the city has to be cleared by NMMC. If the construction is not as per rules even if done by a government body, NMMC has the jurisdiction to demolish it.”

‘Contact the other person, not us.’

He added NMMC did not give it in writing. He then started contacting Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte, but there was no reply. Krishna then contacted the Chief Secretary’s office to get information about the higher official under whom NMMC falls. They informed Krishna to contact Principal Secretary Urban Development Mahesh Pathak. However, the information was incorrect.

When Krishna contacted Pathak’s office, they informed him NMMC is under Joint Secretary Urban Development Kailash Pradhan. When he contacted Pradhan’s office, they asked to contact Under-Secretary Navnath Wath. “They do not pick the phone in the first attempt and then ask to contact someone else,” Krishna said.

‘Drunk Bangladeshi immigrants cause a ruckus on road’

The situation has worsened over time as the alleged illegal Bangladeshi immigrants are now often seen fighting on the road near that area. Krishna said, “It has become a common scene here. The other day, I walked down the area when I saw them fighting. All of them were drunk. When another resident of the area started to make a video, some of them questioned why the video was being made. One of those who were trying to stop them from fighting said, ‘if you are going to fight, someone will make a video’. All of them vanished from the spot within seconds.” The resident had forwarded the video to Krishna.

OpIndia has reached out to the concerned officials that Krishna has followed up via email. When and if they reply to the concerns, we will update the story. 

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B.Sc. Multimedia, a journalist by profession.

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