On Friday, the Bombay High Court directed the Maharashtra government
to take appropriate action against illegal religious structures in terms of regularisation, relocation and removal within nine months.
Though the government asked for a year’s time which was denied by the court, it has assured that all illegal religious shrines which came up after 2009 would be demolished within nine months.
In September 2009, the Supreme Court had directed all states to initiate action against illegal shrines. According to an affidavit filed earlier by the government led by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, there are 808 illegal religious structures
in corporation areas that came up after September 29, 2009, but only 217 have been demolished so far. Out of 1,065 illegal religious structures in the collectorate area, only four have been demolished.
After the Supreme Court order, the state government resolution (GR) was passed in May 2011.
In its resolution, the state government had prescribed a ‘well-defined’ scheme for appropriate action against unauthorised religious structures.
The GR specified that illegal and unauthorised shrines erected after September 29, 2009, have to be demolished. The structures have been classified into categories, including old religious shrines and those posing as a roadblock for both traffic and law and order. The GR suggested a three-tier committee be set up at the state, district and corporation levels, including Mumbai, Thane and Pune for relevant action.
However, the government in its affidavit filed on Friday said that the onus on removing illegal structures in municipal corporation areas lies with commissioners.
“The commissioner of police in the police commissionerate areas and the district superintendent of police have been directed to provide police protection for implementation of the time-bound program,” Joint Secretary of the state home department, AB Patil said in the affidavit.