Why illegal constructions are mushrooming in Muslim dominated areas?

By Danish Reyaz,

javed ill legal

About two years back in Mumbra, it was not uncommon to see Fahim Ghare, a young man in his early thirties, hanging out with his bunch of friends until he was able to lay hands on a piece of land and erected a one storey structure within fifteen days’ time. It was only recently that the man who could be easily spotted dawdling time, smoking with his bunch of friends, the money for which often came from his friends, endlessly bragging at tea sessions etc, primarily because he and his likes had nothing better to do; was now driving a brand new two wheeler. As the construction progressed and the structure rose three storey high, Fahim was driving a swanky sedan from skoda. From three, it rose to nine within an unbelievable three months’ time, all this on a thousand square feet of land. People from low income groups come and settle here inspite of the absence of supply water and power, let alone the elevator. The thing that makes them happy and move on inspite of the hardships that the lack of such basic amenities would bring, is the sense of ownership of a piece of property, having one’s own place under the Sun. The first and second storeys of the building have been cunningly sold to a school. Children, small and young come here, study, play and leave safely for their homes. That is what it is as of now. What happens tomorrow, nobody knows. However, it won’t be an attempt to scare the public or spread panic in the neighborhood if one would raise questions on the structural integrity. Given the time period within which it was “constructed”, if I can use that word, it does not require an expert to figure out the probabilities, all of which are highly alarming and will have serious consequences. The people in the neighborhood stood as mute spectators while Fahim did what could be regarded as a civil engineering feat in its own right, the reason being the latter’s proximity to the local MLA and former mayor of Thane. There are a lot of Fahims to be found in Mumbra and elsewhere whose rags-to-riches story match with the pace of the structures they illegally erect.

Rajan Kine, the corporator from Mumbra puts the blame on the municipal corporation and authorities saying that it is they who have allowed the illegal constructions to flourish. Without the consent from the authorities, not a brick can be laid down for construction. Technically speaking, the whole region comprising of what is Mumbra together with Kausa falls into either the forest area or, due to its proximity to the water body, does not lie in the “R” zone. Hence, according to the rules and regulations pertaining to construction, the whole region is unfit for making residential structures. He admits that since the time, the NCP MLA, Jitendra Awhad came to power, the erecting of 8-9 storey buildings within 3-4 months has become a phenomenon.

This phenomenon is not restricted to Mumbai alone but is prevalent in Muslim pockets all over the country.

Topsia, Beniapukur, Tangra, Tijala (Kolkata); Jamia Nagar(New delhi); Juhapura(Ahmedabad); are a good example to illustrate the national scale of the phenomenon. All of them share a common lack or a complete absence of basic amenities like power, water supply, drainage, government schools and hospitals, access to transport etc.

“As far as illegal constructions in Topsia are concerned, all the illegal buildings they were erected during the former Left Front government” said Sovan Chatterjee, Mayor of Kolkata.

According to sources, the KMC has become serious in it’s attempt to arrest the illegal construction. In the last 6 months, 70 cases of illegal construction have been traced and 40 FIRs been lodged.

“Illegal construction has become a hindrance to the development in the city of joy. After paying bribe to the anti socials in their area and the policemen, people construct illegal buildings. The goverenemnt should not allow the mushrooming of illegal constructions”, said a city based architect Azim Danish.

Affan Ahmed Kamil, director at Urban Buildcon Solutions Pvt. Ltd. says “the illegal construction in okhla area result of votebank politics. People, usually migrant labors are settled en masse, who then act as a votebank. This follows official recognition.”

Ghulam Mohammed, a Media Activist says “A Muslim ghetto, Mumbra, could have been a model town, if the Muslims had not been discriminated against by the communal government of Mumbai City and Maharashtra State. Hundreds and thousands of supposed ‘illegal’ buildings all over the city and suburbs of greater Mumbai, are made legal through the very outset by the authorities through under the table exchange. However, for Muslim entrepreneurs, even that route is closed. So there remains no alternative for the so-called dropout ‘builders’ other than to take the ‘criminal’ routes. They are forced to remain outside of the legal and official framework. Mumbra could have been a planned city, just like Sharad Pawar’s LAVASA. But Muslims have no political clout and no access to bank finances. They are forced to work with whatever means are available to them, to make a living. At least they are getting employment for themselves and their workers. If they had finances available like the Bohra communities’ Bhendi Bazaar Project, they could have come out with flying colors with their flair for entrepreneurship.”

“The disastrous crash of the 8 storey building could have been avoided if the authorities had cooperated with the genuine needs of hundreds of thousands of families uprooted during Mumbai riots. Since Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation is still ruled by the same Shiv Sena, that had unleashed the post-Babri riots of Bombay, the gulf between the two communities is still wide and glaring. Muslims are never given an inch lest they catch up and make a success of their existence in the burgeoning city of Mumbai.” He added.

“This can easily be compared to the civil disobedience movement of Mahatma Gandhi, who had realised that without an anti-British movement, Indian will never get their rights. Since all doors to legitimate progress and survival are closed to Muslims, the wider implication of this uncharted and unplanned movement of ‘Civil Disobedience’ against an institutionally adverse government, has to be recognised as such and the ruling oligarchs and civic administration should shed their prejudices against their Muslim compatriots and treat them at equal footing with all others.”

Whatever may be the case, there’s no denying the fact that it is largely due to the lack of attention, deliberate or otherwise, on part of the corporations, that give rise to land sharks and the builder mafia in the society who threaten it’s social fabric.


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