PCMC drive reduced Rs 120 cr to dust

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In eight months, the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) demolished 8 lakh square feet of construction, which in terms of present cost of construction means that the bulldozers flattened buildings worth Rs 120 crore. After a decision on Friday that illegal structures would be regularised, many citizens feel that the loss the drive caused, and the associated anguish, pain and tension, was avoidable.

"The current construction cost is Rs 1,500 per square feet. If 8 lakh square feet of construction has been demolished, Rs 120 crore has gone down the drain," said builder Atul Goel.

All the demolished buildings had come up after March 31, 2012. Highrise buildings scaling up to seven floors and above were also demolished. The PCMC also lost money, spending nearly Rs 1.25 crore on manpower and machinery for the drive.

The drive also resulted in conflicts and anguish. The town witnessed several unsavoury incidents with agitated mobs pelting stones at PCMC squads and the police, people screaming and sobbing as the civic body brought down one structure after another.

Civic officials and employees who carried out the drive, as well as their families, were also not spared of tension as they feared reprisals. Municipal Commissioner Dr Shrikar Pardeshi had to be provided with police protection 24X7 after he received death threats from aggrieved citizens.

After Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Friday said illegal constructions would be regularised, a view is emerging whether all that happened in the last eight months could have been avoided.

Some believe it would have been prudent of the civic body to use the illegal constructions for running civic schools, computer labs or for similar purposes rather than razing them. The common grouse is, "Was there a way the Rs 120 crore could have been saved?"

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