In a significant move that has stirred discontent among Vasai residents, the Shinde–Fadnavis government has decided to permanently merge 29 villages into the Vasai-Virar Municipal Corporation, altering their administrative status. The decision, initiated in 2011, is currently under review at the Mumbai High Court after the government submitted a letter seeking clarification on the procedural aspects involved. The court is scheduled to hear the case on February 16th, 2024. This decision has dealt a severe blow to the ongoing protest against the merger of these villages.
The case involving the merger of 29 villages into the Vasai-Virar Municipal Corporation is currently pending in the Mumbai High Court. The hearing, presided over by Justice G.S. Patel and Justice Kamal Kata, took place on Tuesday to discuss the matter. The final decision on the merger is awaited, and the government has submitted a letter signed by Under-Secretary Shankar Jadhav to the court, indicating the state’s position. The government’s earlier decision to merge these villages, taken by the then Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on May 31, 2011, had faced legal challenges, leading to the current proceedings. The court had previously directed the government to provide information on the procedure followed for the previous decision, leading to the upcoming hearing on February 16th.
The recent change in the government’s stance has left Vasai residents in distress. The announcement has triggered a wave of dissatisfaction among the locals, who are now preparing for a protest against the government’s decision. John Pereira, a leader of the protest movement, stated, “We are now planning a protest against the government’s decision. Soon, a direction will be decided upon.” The immediate past Chief Minister, Prithviraj Chavan, had taken the decision to merge the villages during a cabinet meeting. The decision received approval in the cabinet, followed by a formal notification signed by the Governor. Jimi Ghonsalvis, an active participant in the protest, raised concerns about the transparency of the government’s recent decision, stating, “It is perplexing that such a crucial decision is being communicated only through a letter to the court.”
The announcement has triggered unrest among Vasai residents, prompting them to voice their opposition through protest movements. The leader of the protest, Vijay Patil, stated, “To safeguard their political interests, all norms have been bent, playing with the sentiments of Vasai residents.” The government’s decision has led to a clash of emotions among Vasai residents, with the protest intensifying against what is perceived as a hasty and unilateral decision.
The discontent among Vasai residents is palpable, with many expressing their dissatisfaction with the government’s decision. The recent turn of events has also raised questions about the government’s commitment to transparency and adherence to established norms. Jimi Ghonsalvis questioned the government’s approach, stating, “Submitting a letter to the court is not only unconventional but also raises doubts about the government’s commitment to transparency.”
The ongoing legal battle and the upcoming hearing on February 16th will likely shape the fate of the 29 villages facing merger into the Vasai-Virar Municipal Corporation. The protest against the government’s decision is gaining momentum, with local leaders vowing to continue their fight until the matter is resolved in favor of the residents. As Vasai residents gear up for a potential showdown with the government, the outcome of the court’s decision will determine the future administrative landscape of these 29 villages.