NAVI MUMBAI: The civic body has decided to crack down on hotels which have illegal extensions across the city. Officials said that they plan to skip the stage where fines are levied instead will start razing the structures permanently.
"I instructed ward offices just last week to not levy any penalties but to get rid of these encroachments permanently," said Ankush Chavan, additional municipal commissioner.
The directive has come at a time when RTI activists were already questioning the kind of action taken by the encroachment department against such hotels. An RTI query restricted to Vashi revealed that between 2007 and 2014, the office had issued 31 notices to 25 hotels, only 10 of those were fined and encroachments demolished. The civic body records stated that these establishments were fined up to Rs 10,000 on an average.
Vaibhav Sawant, who filed the information request, said that even though the notices were sent , with some establishments receiving multiple citations, the illegal extensions continued to serve customers. "Serving notices or levying fines has little impact. For these establishments, it is business as usual," said Sawant
He explained that he had checked every hotel, which were served notices and majority of theirs illegal structures continue to remain. The activist added that when he spoke to officials they explained that a manpower crunch had restricted consistent action.
He had brought the matter to the notice of D T Waghmare, civic commissioner, to take action against these hotels on March 18.
Officials insist that they have taken action and they are following standard practice.
"The very fact that 31 notices have been issued by the office itself reflects the proactive action taken by the department. To state that the ward does not initiate action is also wrong because there are pictures to prove the demolitions took place," said an official.
He added that a penalty is levied "against the expense incurred by the office in conducting the drive."