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Maha govt assures Bombay HC to demolish illegal shrines by May

Maharashtra cabinet

Mumbai : The Maharashtra government today assured the Bombay High Court that it was committed to demolish all illegal shrines across the state by May.

The high court asked the government to strictly follow its commitment of demolishing illegal shrines in the state which had come up after 2009 and warned that any laxity on its part would be viewed seriously.

A bench headed by justices Abhay Oka ordered the state government to file an affidavit by February 15 on compliance of the high court order of November 2015 asking the authorities to demolish the illegal shrines in Maharashtra within six months.

The matter was adjourned to February 18 by the bench which was hearing a bunch of PILs filed by social activist Bhagwanji Riyani and NGOS including ‘Society for fast Justice’.

When the matter came up for hearing this morning, the bench asked the state to provide the figures of shrines demolished in the last three months.

Government pleader sought time until tomorrow but the judges said they wanted to know today itself the numbers of the shrines which have been demolished or else they would issue contempt notice to the authorities.

During the afternoon session, government pleader Abhinandan Vagyani informed the high court that the government was committed to its resolution issued on November 18 last year deciding to demolish illegal shrines within six months.

“We are committed to demolish illegal shrines by May 2016 and either shift them to other place or regularise them,” he said.

To a query by the high court about action taken on demolition of such structures which had come up after 2009, he said 881 shrines had been identified in the state (except Mumbai) as illegal and of them, 41 structures had been demolished.

In the limits of Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, 862 shrines had been identified as illegal. Of these, 28 were demolished, the pleader informed the bench.

The Bombay High Court, in March 2015, had directed the civic authorities to demolish all the illegal shrines that have come up in Maharashtra post 2009.

Following a Supreme Court order, the state government had issued a resolution in 2011, prescribing action regarding unauthorised religious structures in terms of regularisation, relocation or removal. Later, in November 2015 it came up with another government resolution declaring action all illegal shrines.

According to the resolution, all the illegal shrines constructed after September 2009 must be removed.

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