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SC directs Maharashtra to undertake geomapping of cities

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SC directs Maharashtra to undertake geomapping of cities

Geomapping, or surveying of land and sub surface using GPS, presents a detailed view of a site and the surrounding area including roads, buildings, mountains, rivers, estuaries and pipelines.

Voicing concern over illegal constructions, the Supreme Court Thursday directed all the cities in Maharashtra with population of 50 lakh or more to get geomapping done of the municipal areas in the city.

Geomapping, or surveying of land and sub surface using GPS, presents a detailed view of a site and the surrounding area including roads, buildings, mountains, rivers, estuaries and pipelines.

The top court held that Geomapping can be done by satellite, drones or vehicles and once it is done it would be easy to control illegal constructions.

A bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose further directed the Maharashtra government to ensure that sufficient funds are made available to the municipal corporations concerned and the exercise be completed within a year from the date of this order.

“It will be obligatory for all municipal corporations in the State of Maharashtra where the population is 50 lakhs or more to get geomapping and geo-photography of the areas under their jurisdiction done within a period of one year.

“Geomapping will also be done of an area of 10 Kms. from the boundary of such areas. The records should be maintained and updated by the Municipal Corporations within such time period as municipal corporation deems fit, keeping in mind the specific circumstances of the area under its jurisdiction,” the bench said.

The top court also directed that whenever any new area is brought under the jurisdiction of a municipality, it will be the duty of the concerned corporation to ensure that its geomapping is conducted and the records are created at the earliest.

Passing a slew of directions, the apex court said in cases where a building has been constructed in violation of applicable laws, the concerned authority issue a show cause notice giving seven days to the owner.

“In case the notice is not replied to within the time prescribed, seven days, then the building shall be immediately demolished by the municipal corporation,” the bench said.

The apex court said that in those cases where according to the municipal corporation there is ongoing construction which is being carried on in violation of applicable laws, concerned authority shall issue show cause notice giving 24 hours to “owner/occupier/builder/ contractor/architect etc”.

“Till the State frames any laws in this regard, we direct that before any construction/reconstruction, or repair not being a tenantable repair is carried out, the owner/occupier/builder/contractor/architect, in fact all of them should be required to furnish a plan of the structure as it exists. They will also provide an e–mail ID and mobile phone number on which notice(s), if any, can be sent. This map can be taken on record and, thereafter, the construction can be permitted.

“In such an eventuality even if the demolition is illegal it will be easy to know what were the dimensions of the building. This information should not only be in paper form in the nature of a plan, but should also be in the form of 3D visual information, in the nature of photographs, videos etc,” the bench said.

The top court said that all over the country when people raise illegal constructions it is claimed that the said construction has been existing for long and the answer is to get geomapping done.

“If on Google Maps one can get a road view, we see no reason as to why this technology cannot be used by the municipal corporations,” it said.

The apex court’s judgement came on an appeal filed by Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai and others which involved the question whether if a municipal corporation demolishes a structure in exercise of powers vested in it but in violation of the procedure prescribed, can the High Court direct the “owner/occupier” of the building to reconstruct the demolished structure.

The municipal corporations in the State of Maharashtra like in any other part of the country are vested with the power to demolish structures which violate the laws and have been built without any building plans or in violation of the laws.

The exercise of the power of demolition which affects the property of the citizens of this country must be exercised in an absolutely fair and transparent manner.

“Rules in this regard must be followed. At the same time, the Court has to balance the private interest with the larger public interest. Cities and towns must be well planned and illegal structures must be demolished. Rule of law comprises not only of the principles of natural justice but also provides that the procedure prescribed by law must be followed,” it said.

The bench said that “Rule of law” envisages that illegal constructions which are constructed in violation of law must be demolished and there can be no sympathy towards those who violate law.

Source : PTI

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