Geomapping is the answer to the increasing menace of illegal construction

Supreme Court: Holding that Geopmapping is the answer to issue of the illegal constructions, the bench of Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, JJ has made it obligatory for all Municipal Corporations in the State of Maharashtra where the population is 50 lakhs or more to get geomapping and geo­photography 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.

Noticing the fact that when people raise illegal constructions it is claimed that the said construction has been existing for long, the Court said,

“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.”

The Court said that geomapping can be done by satellite, drones or vehicles. Once one has the whole city geomapped it would be easy to control illegal constructions. It, hence, directed the State of Maharashtra to ensure that sufficient funds are made available to the municipal corporations concerned and this exercise should be completed within a period of one year from the date of this order.

Here are some of the other important directions issued by the Court in case of any illegal construction,

  • The Commissioner/Competent Authority shall issue a show cause notice giving 7 days in terms of   Section 351 of Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act to the owner/occupier/builder/contractor etc. In case the notice is not replied to within the time prescribed, i.e., 7 days, then the building shall be immediately demolished by the Municipal Corporation.
  • The Commissioner/Competent Authority on coming to know that there is ongoing construction in violation of the applicable laws shall issue a show cause notice giving 24 hours in terms of Section 351 to the owner/occupier/builder/contractor/architect etc. An interim ‘stop­construction’ order can also be issued along with the notice or any time after issuing the notice. In case the notice is not replied to within the time prescribed, i.e., 24 hours, then the building shall be immediately demolished by the Municipal Corporation.
  • 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 e­mail ID and mobile phone number on which notice(s), if any, can be sent.

[Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai v. Sunbeam High Tech Developers Pvt. Ltd., 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1389, decided on 24.10.2019]

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