Mumbai: The Economic Offences Wing of the police will now investigate violations under the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act, including illegal construction. A special cell has been formed in the EOW to probe these offences.

Sources said one of the reasons for shifting these offences to the EOW from the Local Police Stations was to reduce incidents of settlement and extortion.

The decision has, however, is not been appreciated by citizens and elected representatives. Congress MLA from Malad, Aslam Sheikh, who had complained to the BMC about illegal debris dumping, was informed by the Local Civic Ward Office as well as the Police Station that the EOW would have to be approached to file an FIR.

Sheikh has written to the Mumbai Police Commissioner, conveying him that the new directive will only dissuade citizens from filing a complaint against illegalities. He wants the circular to be revoked.

Sheikh had filed a complaint with the Local Ward Office about debris dumping along Lagoon Road, Marve Road, Ambujwadi and near Aksa beach. The Local Ward Officer had then approached the Police Station to lodge a complaint. “Very few people lodge a complaint at the Local Police Station. How many will spend an entire day to lodge a complaint with the EOW which is located at the Commissioner’s Office? Besides, one has to follow up on a complaint,’’ he said.

M S Vibhute, Assistant Municipal Commissioner, P-North Ward, said the Local Police informed them that they had stopped taking these cases for the past month after the circular was issued. “Of course, we have collected penalty from the dumper owner for illegal debris dumping but have not filed a complaint with the police,’’ he said.

In normal circumstances, the BMC would seize the vehicle, charge a penalty and file a complaint with the Local Police under the MRTP Act

Himanshu Roy, Joint Commissioner, Law and Order, said, “A special cell with officers trained to investigate cases under the MRTP has been set up in the EOW. This is because these cases require special investigative skills.’’

Source Courtesy: The Times Of India, Mumbai; Date: May 16, 2012; Section: Times City; Page: 8