Activists flag PMC’s ‘biased’ anti-encroachment campaign

Pune: Citizen activists have expressed concern that the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) is following a biased attitude towards its anti-encroachment campaign. Although residents applaud the civil administration’s move to demolish illegal buildings, what the political parties have done on the sidewalks and curbs of the roads is untouchable. These structures are commonly used as entertainment centers, libraries or “Sampark” (help desk) offices.

Policy Commissioner Vikram Kumar, who took over as PMC administrator, ordered an anti-encroachment campaign in early March.

Kumar said the banners and sit-ins of political parties come under an illegal and anti-encroachment campaign.

“About 18,000 banners and Flex have been removed under the drive and political parties have been requested not to engage in such publicity campaigns. .

“Over the last two months, we have noticed that re-encroachment has become the norm. So, we need to revisit these places and clear it. There are many areas that still need attention. Some of the plots and community spaces reserved for the Municipal Corporation are being overridden and some illegal structures are affected by the follow-up. Kumar said all these obstacles will be given high priority.

Pradeep Inamdar, convener of NGO Pedestrians First, said, “Anything that interferes with safe and comfortable walking is defined as trespass. This includes open air gyms, merchants, political parties, MSEDCL Feeder Pillar Boxes and constructions by the PMC in the form of beautification projects.

Many sit-ins built in citywide political shelters are inconvenient to pedestrians. Convener of the Airport City Citizens Forum, Khaneez Sukharani, said these constructions are illegal as blocking footpaths. PMC is targeting only a few shoppers. These sitouts can be seen as politicians’ propaganda centers. Everyone seems to have the right to footpaths, except for pedestrians.

Inamdar said pedestrians were free to walk on the footpath.

While anti-transgressions have faced opposition from street vendors and political parties, the latter has remained silent about the transgression of politicians.

Some sit-ins or entertainment centers are mostly used by members of political parties, but corporations or local lawmakers / MPs have funded structures from their area development funds.

Vishal Tambe, a corporator of the Nationalist Congress Party of Dhankawadi, said: “The street vendors may have overrun the area we are using for public use.” However, he admitted that some sitouts are illegal. In Dhankawadi, such structures, supported by NCP and Congress leaders, are located side by side.

“The government should sit under a tree on the roadside. PMC has already installed benches with shady areas and it will not be disturbed. Massive sitouts are unnecessary, ”said Inamdar.

Madhav Jagatap, head of the intrusion unit, said, “The campaign is being planned systematically.

“Kumar’s anti-trespass drive is laudable, but it must be impartial,” said Sukharani.

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