Mumbai, May 8: The Malad-based Mary Mariamman temple situated at Marve Cross Road was demolished on October 31, 2003 following the Bombay High Court’s directives to the BMC on demolishing all post 1965 shrines that illicitly occupied public space.
The temple has since resurfaced again, making a mockery of the court’s verdict and the BMC demolition drive undertaken since.
The Mary Mariamman temple (circled) in Malad
Malad BMC and police officials suggested that the temple managers undertook the reconstruction job surreptitiously in February 2005. But the temple plot was situated right on the periphery of the main road and the reconstruction work was there for all to see.
600 such cases
According to NGO Janhit Manch, at least 600 of the 1,100 shrines had resurfaced after the BMC demolition drive. The NGO last week sent a note to municipal commissioner Johny Joseph demanding intervention.
In 2001, the same NGO moved court-seeking demolition of 5,000 illicit places of worship. The court directed the BMC to undertake an illegal temple demolition drive. BMC statistics show 1,100 shrines in the city were demolished in 2003.
Commissioner Joseph, however, believes the numbers cited by the NGO were inflated. Joseph said, “It is just not possible that 600 structures could be re-erected in two years. The civic body appointed officials to monitor illegal constructions.”
The Commissioner’s office said that they would do a survey to determine the number of shrines that have resurfaced since 2003 after discussing it with the four additional municipal commissioner’s next week. It, however, remains to be seen whether the officials guilty of shutting eyes to the illicit reconstruction will be penalised.
Janhit Manch, meanwhile, has filed a notice of motion in the court for restarting the hearing on shrine demolition.