Nagpur: The Guardian Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule is at it again. Encroachment is and should not be a political issue. But the minister has a penchant to play “nasty” games when it comes to pushing his near and dear ones (voters) on the edge that too at the hands of someone else. One such obnoxious act of the controversial minister has come to the fore. The minister is trying to fire his gun from someone else’s shoulder!!
Curbing encroachments on roads or removing them is the responsibility of local Gram Panchayat or Nagar Panchayat. But the State Energy Minister, who happens to Nagpur Guardian Minister, forced the NHAI (National Highway Authority of India) officials to throw out the encroachments at Koradi-Mahadula areas. The ‘game-plan’ of the minister was that he did not want to “spoil” his “good image” as the encroachers were his near and dear ones (voters). A market was being run in the area (around Chhindwara Road) since years. Due to the encroachment menace in this one and half kilometer stretch, the National Highway 69 was narrowed down to “One Way Road.” Fatal mishaps were on the increase.
A few years ago, a former local resident Mohan Karemore had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court regarding the encroachment menace. Subsequently, the court had taken a serious note and had ordered ridding of the National Highway of the scourge. Following the order, the NHAI cracked down on the encroachments in a 72-hour drive. But the menace again showed its ugly face as the local residents not only encroached the “service road” but also the water drainage areas of the roadside and later even the reserved lands in vengeance. Today, the situation has come to such a pass that except two-wheelers no other big vehicle can pass through the “service road” without hassles.
The total length of ‘service road’ on both sides of Koradi-Mahadula is around three kilometers. The responsibility of removing the encroachments on this ‘service road’ as well as lands of National Highway lies with the local Mahadula Gram Panchayat and Koradi Nagar Parishad. But the ‘problem’ is that both the local bodies are being ruled by BJP. If the ruling party acts tough, even according to norms, against the encroachers, then the office-bearers of both local bodies and the local MLA could be in trouble, politically. On the other hand, the same time local MLA and Guardian Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule has ‘great plans’ of turning the Koradi Mandir and nearby premises a world class tourist place with ‘excellent’ facilities. Getting rid of the encroachers, who are also the voters of Bawankule, was proving to be “thorn in the flesh” and posing a challenge of sorts. To accomplish the mission, a game-plan had to be worked out. And a “strategy” was drawn at a 45-minute meeting held at Ravibhavan last week and the divisional officials of NHAI were given a “dressing down” by Bawankule over the encroachment issue. “The menace must be crushed before Navratri festival” was the diktat of the minister. In short, the minister wanted to fire his gun from NHAI shoulder! And save his skin and house from “raining stones.”
“Obeying” the diktat, the NHAI officials contacted Koradi police as they were well aware of the fact if the encroachments were not removed they could face a ‘terrible’ music as Bawankule’s “boss” is National Highways Minister. So the transfers could be on the cards. The Koradi cops, on the other hand, informed the NHAI babus that the encroachments could not be removed with the help of local police alone. Better knock the doors of Police Commissioner’s office, was the advice. Subsequently, the NHAI officials reached the CP office and sought police force for the job in hand. The officials even gave a word that the entire expenditure of police force would be met by NHAI.
However, initially, the CP office turned down the NHAI request and later sought a detailed report from Koradi cops on the ‘herculean’ task. Koradi police forwarded a list of demands including over 100 officials and police personnel plus “Vajra” and other vehicles to the office of Deputy Commissioner. The Deputy Commissioner in turn forwarded the same “demand” to office of Police Commissioner. The “demand” was perused on Friday or was likely to be “seen” on Saturday. And then the NHAI office would be notified about the expenditure assessment and other issues. Once everything in place, the date of “mission encroachment removal” would be decided. It could possibly be done on September 27 or 28.
The rid of encroachments one way or the other could “relieve” the Guardian Minister to some extent but problems of political nature.
Encroachers too gird up the loins:
The Chief Executive Officer of Koradi Nagar Panchayat, on the “recommendation” of NHAI, issued notices to the encroachers. As soon as they received the notices, the encroachers too gird up their loins to thwart the ‘designs’ of bulldozer wielding anti-encroachment squads. Koradi police too have gone on alert mode.
– Rajeev Ranjan Kushwaha ( rajeev.nagpurtoday@g