KALYAN: The state's forest department on Thursday initiated a massive demolition drive against 90 of the over 800 illegal shops and houses near Malang Gad, also known as Haji Malang hill. The move follows the recent landslide which claimed the life of one person and injured two.


A forest department official, however, said that at present action has only been taken against illegal commercial shops built in the region and no houses were demolished. Expressing its displeasure over state action, Peer Haji Malang Dargah Baba Trust stated that the land belongs to the Trust and they had given the space on rent to these families and shopkeepers. The Trust said these people have been living there for many years and suspect the action was taken uner political pressure.


The Trust later moved the Kalyan sessions court against the demolition. The court heard the case the same evening during which civil judge A S Lanjewar ordered in favour of the Trust and directed the forest department to immediately stop demolition proccedings. By the time the court order came, the forest department had razed 90 of the 800 structures that were issued notices.


In January this year, Malang Gad came into spotlight after chief minister Eknath Shinde said during a programme that he is committed to the liberation of Malang Gad. After the landslide accident reported last month, the forest department had issued notices to houses and shops on June 25, and asked them to submit relevant documents within three days, else face demolition.


On failing to furnish the documents, the forest department undertook the demolition drive a week later amid heavy security arrangements. Thursday's drive