Homes and business infrastructure near the defense lab have been deemed illegal Image Source: Ravi Karandeekar’s Pune
Share on:

Trisha Ghosh, Pune

The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has identified 40 shops and 10 bungalows as being illegally built in the vicinity of the High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL) in Sutarwadi, Pune. The Bombay High Court has ordered the PMC to take down the buildings as infrastructure constructed within a distance of 500 yards from the defense lab is strictly prohibited.

Recently, the Bombay High Court has been strengthening rules and regulations in regard to constructions in the vicinity of defense infrastructure. Approximately 40 shops and 10 bungalows are posing a security risk to the defense establishment of the HEMRL. Sunil Kadam, Deputy Engineer of the PMC, said, “We have served notices to five of them in the past and now to the remaining five to pull down the structure.”

Many of these shops are also adjacent to the Mumbai-Bangalore bypass. Upon the PMC taking action against them for this, the property owners challenged the actions of the civic authorities in the high court. Kadam added that since the court has given the green light to pull down the buildings in question, the PMC has requested police assistance and protection to conduct the removal. The same will be executed by sometime in the coming week. 

Moreover, shop owners challenging the civic body’s actions in court have been asked by the court to pay Rs. 1 lakh per person to the PMC. Justice Kamal Khata and Justice G S Patel have made it clear in an order from February 23rd, that the best interests of the Union of India and the Ministry of Defence cannot be compromised under any circumstances for private owners and builders. 

Defense establishment authorities have been filing complaints since 2021 against the buildings, stating that they are within 500 yards of the HEMRL. The PMC has officially stated to the owners that under the Unified Development Control and Promotion Regulations of 2020, any land within the aforementioned distance from the outer parapet of the establishment cannot be used to construct any buildings.

The HEMRL has also revealed that the property owners in question have been pressing them to acquire their land, as it cannot be developed or make adequate profits. Acquiring land can pose issues as private property owners near other defense establishments across India can make similar demands as well.

The PMC has dismissed these concerns, citing its duty is to check illegal construction activities and not to interfere with the financial or business demands of property owners.