Google Earth helps evict squatters

Tony Gosling tony at
Sun May 22 22:19:43 BST 2011

Satellite images help civic body detect squatters
Linah Baliga, May 19, 2011, 12.51am IST

MUMBAI: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) used Google 
Earth's high-resolution satellite images to pinpoint and demolish 
illegal structures in Dahisar on Wednesday. The BMC now plans to use 
the satellite imaging system to keep track of encroachments across the city.

In a five-hour drive, 475 hutments and 65 commercial structures were 
demolished at Dahisar's Ganpat Patil Nagar. The drive was planned 
after the New Link Road Residents' Forum provided BMC officials with 
information, backed by Google Earth images. All structures were 
located in a coastal regulatory zone (CRZ 1) and no-development zone (NDZ).

"The residents' forum provided us information about structures 
present till 2000. Satellite maps showed structures of 2009. We could 
thus identify the encroached areas,'' a civic official said.

Forum member Harish Pandey said, "Satellite mapping doesn't lie. It 
clearly shows the increase in encroachments over the years.'' The 
forum said it had spent $599 on getting the images. "The money will 
be collected from local residents. The images are sharp and clearly 
visible. We got the images of slums dating back to 2000 in 2010," 
said Pandey. The BMC used five excavators, 60 labourers and 25 civic 
staff, with police protection.

The residents had filed a public interest litigation in January 2010 
against the proliferation of illegal slums in the area. A right to 
information petition revealed that 450 slums in 1995 had increased to 
10,000 in 2011.

"Slum-dwellers have been robbing water, electricity from 
street-lights, and defecating on roads, thus posing a hygiene problem 
for local residents. Hawking on the streets also blocks traffic. The 
roads cannot be used by local residents. They are close to Gorai 
creek, and are an ideal hiding spot for anti-social elements," said Pandey.

He said local citizens were deprived of basic amenities and the slums 
at Ganpat Patil Nagar were cultivated for vote-bank politics. "Funds 
meant for tax-paying citizens were diverted by elected represent- 
atives. Last year, a slum rehabilitation authority (SRA) plan was 
mooted for the slums. When we got wind of this, we got a stay under 
our PIL filed in January 2010. The SRA was mooted by the Congress and 
the survey was conducted free," he said.

+44 (0)7786 952037
"Capitalism is institutionalised bribery."

"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic poison which 
alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung

More information about the Diggers350 mailing list