The Bombay High Court on Wednesday pulled up the Maharashtra government for "turning a blind eye" to illegal constructions carried out by "powerful and eminent" people in the coastal Alibaug district.
A division bench of Justices S C Dharmadhikari and R I Chagla asked the Alibaug collector to remain present on November 11 with all the records pertaining to the issue.
The bench was hearing a petition filed by activist Surendra Dhavale, seeking a direction to the authorities to demolish unauthorized constructions "within low and high tide areas" in coastal areas of Alibaug.
Many such structures have sprung up in Alibaug, a popular getaway near Mumbai, in violation of the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority rules, it said.
The high court had last year ordered the collector to carry out inspection and demolish illegal bungalows and other structures.
The collector issued demolition orders for several bungalows, including one owned by fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi. Modi's bungalow was demolished in February this year.
On Wednesday, the HC was informed by additional government pleader P Kakade that of the 159 illegal structures, 24 had been pulled down.
The owners of 111 structures had approached courts and secured stay to demolition, Kakade said, adding the government had filed appeals against stay orders.
"Eminent and powerful people have built these bungalows without bothering to seek requisite permissions. The authorities have turned a blind eye while these bungalows were being constructed," the High Court remarked.
"Does some different and special law apply to these persons and that is why the government has not demolished their structures?" the court asked.
The collector should be present next week and produce details of suits filed by owners of illegal structures and the steps taken by the government for getting the stay to demolition vacated in every case, the judges said.
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