Mumbai: For hundreds of families, April 4 was a day of horror when a building collapsed in Thane. Two months on and over 20 arrests later, a CNN-IBN investigation brings you the shocking truth underlining the real estate business in Maharashtra. Let alone cramped residential buildings, documents show even offices of political parties are illegal in the Thane district.
71 per cent of party offices in Thane district are illegal. 63 per cent of the illegal party offices belong to Shiv Sena with 18 illegal offices in Railadevi division alone. Naupada, Majhiwada, Vartaknagar and Waghle divisions have anything between 10-12 illegal party offices. Barring few notices, no action has been taken so far.
Take the Shiv Sena shakha at Charai for instance - it was inaugurated by late Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray. Our investigation threw up a pamphlet circulated by Shiv Sena legislator Rajen Vichare touting this as the modern shakha of the party. but here's the shocker. The Thane municipal corporation has declared this office illegal but astonishingly it still stands with no action taken so far. In the Uthalsar division where this shakha stands, the Sena has two more such offices - both illegal.
Former BMC deputy commissioner G Khairnar said, "If there is a political pressure, normally you cannot take action. If you demolish, the officer will be demolished. He fill be finished."
Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik said, "They should demolish illegal structures even if it belongs to a political party. Even if it is Pratap Sarnaik's house. If it is illegal then they should demolish it before they demolish houses of poor people."
Despite Sarnaik's claim, CNN-IBN finds out that his own construction firm is housed on the 12th floor of this 16-floor building, one of the tallest in the Thane district. It has been declared illegal.
Documents suggest how the business of illegal construction gains legitimacy - with political parties showing no respect for civic laws. Many believe the construction business thrives on political patronage but the big question remains as whether the government will ever crack the whip despite massive loss of life like in Mumbra.