They say Nagpur is slated to soon be one of the smart cities of the country. They say with the Chief Minister himself being a loyal Nagpurian, who has the distinction of having been the youngest Mayor of the city how can Nagpur not develop? They ask, with a powerful Central Minister like Nitin Gadkari being one of the most concerned local politicians we have, NOW is the golden chance for the city. They say with RSS being situated in Nagpur and it being common knowledge that these days it has the ‘remote control’ of the country, Nagpur is THE place to be in!
We ask, if all this is true, then how come a blind eye is turned to so many irregularities and illegalities that exist, prosper and progress not just in some random corner of the city, but in the heart of the CM’s constituency?
Apart from the State government being BJP run, even the NMC has been in the hands of this party for some time. The present Corporator of the area, Anil Sole is an MLC and was Mayor recently, then why has he not done anything about this menace?
Nagpur Today wrote about it on June 3rd, this year, even the High Court has taken cognizance of the irregularity and illegal occupation and asked for the issue to be resolved by mediation, why has it not happened?
We are speaking of the Kachipura area in Ramdaspeth, just adjacent to the Central Bazar road, and near the Bajaj Nagar square, areas which on paper is farmland belonging to the Punjabrao Krishi Vidyapeeth, and which in fact was part farmland and part bush forest till just a decade ago. This area now has not one or two but THIRTY FIVE illegal occupants . They have converted acres of this area into wedding lawns that charge exorbitant fees. There are about 6 such lawns which see wedding receptions happening round the year.
Then there are restaurants, one owned by the celebrity chef of Nagpur, Vishnu Manohar who is supposed to be close to the political dispensation. There is a gas agency, an authorized showroom and service centre for automobiles and many such commercial establishments. No one knows how they occupy the space – they pay no rent or local taxes to MNC for sure! (If they do, MNC has no business taking it, since they are not legal enterprises). They use power, water and they used NMC built roads as parking space for the hundreds of vehicles that bring guests to the lawns and restaurants daily. They generate tons of waste which they dump into the NMC owned Nag Nallah which Mr. Gadkari prefers to call Nag Nadi and plans to run hovercrafts in this ‘river’ soon.
Result? The “farm land” enterprises lead to traffic congestions, pollution and foul odour and mosquitoes and flies for people living in Ramdaspeth, Shankar Nagar, areas of Mr. Sole and Mr. Fadnavis, honourable CM of the state. Another consequence is NMC is robbed of lakhs by way of taxes and revenues – and we all know they are so starved of funds that they cannot pay their employees!
While it is true that PKV and the people of Kachipura are entangled in many cases about this in High Court, all these lawns and eating places could not have come up with such impunity without the connivance and support of local politicians and strong connections. And with the help of goondas and outlaws. When you break the law, that is what you become.
But our City fathers, and our City Managers, the bureaucrats with all the power at their command continue to rain their ire on some select areas and targets such as Sitabaldi shop keepers and/ or legal shop owners elsewhere in Nagpur, small temples and places of worship built by roadsides and of course the hapless slum dwellers. Just this June/July all the shops from Variety square to Loha pool were targeted and their name boards were destroyed causing crores of losses to all the owners put together. But the illegal thela wallahs that crowd the roads and restrict entry to shops the whole day long are not visible, as if!
Thus the selective vision of powerful people is letting the illegal occupation and destruction of lands meant for agriculture research go on unhampered.
As the former VC of PKV, Dr. Sharad Nimbalkar said in an exclusive interview to Nagpur Today, ” these business’ would not have come here but for the support of local politicians. It is the lot of my hapless Professors and Deans to fight this menace in various courts instead of doing their job of teaching and doing Research. The courts are our only hope – even the administration sides with these people.”
Finally Vikas Thakre, Congress leader and also leader of opposition in NMC has decided to raise the matter and get answers in the house soon. He is slated to take up the issue day after.
There were rumours doing the rounds that stung into action, the Commissioner had ordered demolition of the illegal lawns and others. When the undersigned called Mr. Shravan Hardikar, Municipal Commisioner to get his version, he messaged that he was in a meeting and if “it was something important and urgent I should text”. I asked about Kachipura and asked for 5 minutes of his time some time throughout the day and the reply was ” I have meetings whole day long”.
We are so lucky aren’t we that we have a Commissioner who works so hard? Then why is he ignoring this problem too – when we know he is committed to ‘Clean Nagpur’ and wields the ‘jhadu’ himself if need be!
And as Vikas Thakre commented to us, ” this is not only illegal it is turning hazardous as well. All the lawns have wedding reception where bursting of crackers is allowed. There are baraats coming to the lawns and crackers are burst on the street as well. One of the spaces has been rent out to a gas agency which stocks cylinders. What if the crackers were to land on a cylinder?”
Who cares? What if there is an outbreak of cholera because of the large quantities of waste food that is thrown into the Nag Nallah? So what?
Please do not disturb us by asking such uncomfortable questions! We are in the process of becoming a smart city, you dumb people of the media! Write about that, if you must and turn a blind eye to all the other things. Like us.
There is glimmer of hope. I just heard from Mr. Hardikar that notices are being issued to the lawn owners… hope this beginning leads to some concrete results… carry the good work Mr. Commissioner, we at Nagpur Today will carry on bringing to light such irregularities as our duty.