The Lonavla Municipal Council (LMC) has started a survey from Friday of private properties to check for the illegal construction of swimming pools. Senior inspector Sitaram Dubal of the Lonavla police said he had booked seven people under the IPC Section 188 (disobedience) because they had rented out bungalows without registering with the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) or LMC.
A private property owner claimed that the registration process was tedious and time consuming. “I had once tried to get my property registered with LMC. When MTDC came up with the bed and breakfast scheme, I tried my luck there, too. But the process is confusing and there is no place to authentically know what documents we need.
There should be a single-window registration process, or they need to streamline the process as they did with applying for a passport. There should be provisions to upload the documents and book slots. If the process was easy, why would house owners not register themselves?” he said.
Families, groups of friends and corporate houses often book private villas, or rowhouses for privacy they offer in “tranquil” Lonavla-Khandala, a favourite weekend getaway.
Senior inspector Dubal said, “The house owners have to get themselves registered with MTDC or LMC if they want to rent out their bungalows to tourists. If we find that they do not have the relevant documents, they will be booked. In the last two months, we had booked just two-three people. But after the drowning incidents, we have started conducting such checks and booking people.
We booked about seven house owners for lack of proper registration during our checks on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. LMC is also conducting its own investigation into illegal constructions.”
Pandit Patil, the LMC chief officer, said he had ordered a team to survey all the private properties in the area to find out how many of them had swimming pools and how many were legal.
“There is no information on how many people rent out their property and this survey is a way to get some information. Any property, if being used commercially, needs to be registered with us. We serve notice if a swimming pool is illegal. If the pool is built within the guidelines, the owner can get it regularised by paying a fee and a penalty. If a pool does not follow construction guidelines, it would be demolished, and the owner would be fined,” said Patil.
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