Bombay HC suspends the relocation of Kanjurmarg land for the Mumbai subway shed

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |

Updated: December 16, 2020 16:11:18

A board mounted by the Center on a plot of land in Kanjurmarg. (Photo Express: Deepak Joshi)

In a setback for the Maharashtra government, the Bombay High Court passed an interim order on Wednesday, which suspends the transfer of 102 acres of land to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to build a subway car shed. HC was hearing a petition from the Center, which claimed the land belonged to it.

The state government, through the Mumbai Suburban District Collector, had ordered the land transfer of the Kanjurmarg salt mine on 1 October. It was delivered to MMRDA on 6 October. Subsequently, MMRDA transferred the land to Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Limited (DMRCL) on 8 October.

A division bench by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Judge Girish S Kulkarni, however, prevented DMRCL from carrying out its ongoing operations on the ground until further orders. The case will be examined next February 2021.

The order was approved two days after the HC asked the Maharashtra government to consider whether the collector could withdraw the land transfer order to the MMRDA.

Attorney General Kumbhakoni, appearing for the state on Monday, said that because the Assembly session was underway, he should be given two days to respond to the court’s suggestion.

Kumbhakoni said on Wednesday that the state government has complied with the collector’s order and will withdraw it without MMRDA leaving the land. The state government has said it is open to suggestions from parties in the case and the collector can listen to them.

Additional Attorney General Anil Singh, representing the Center, objected and said the counter should set aside the collector’s order. Singh said the state should not be given the opportunity to hear the parties again as the land belonged to the Center.

The bench was listening to the Centre’s written petition, filed through its Deputy Salt Commissioner, which challenged a November 2018 Revenue Minister order stating that while the state owned various salt flats in Mumbai, some were from private property.

Senior attorney Milind Sathe for MMRDA, meanwhile, had argued that the Kanjurmarg auto shed was essential to the Metro project and, therefore, MMRDA would be allowed to continue work on the ground.

The MMRDA highlighted the financial benefits of building an integrated car shed and stated that it would have to spend an additional amount of nearly Rs 2,300 crore for land acquisition and Rs 1,600 crore as operating costs if the project was maintained. from the HC. “The allotment order must not be put aside. Possession and restoration will lead to many complications, ”Sathe said.

Subsequently, senior lawyer Shyam Mehta, representing Maheshkumar Garodia of the Garodia Group, who also contested the collector’s order, said a lawsuit was pending before the city civil court for land tenure and order. was approved without taking note of the same, and did not hear all parties involved. Garodia claimed to be the tenant of nearly 500 acres of land in the village of Kanjur.

Mehta said the subordinate court order, which asked to maintain the status quo, was in favor of his client and, therefore, the state government could not claim the land pending the hearing of the lawsuit. Mehta said the land was reserved for low-cost housing and private entrepreneur Shapoorji Pallonji submitted an application to build thousands of affordable homes. Therefore, he said, it cannot be transferred for the subway project.

Garodia, a legal representative of the former salt manufacturer, further said that up until January of this year, the state government’s technical opinion was of the opinion that Kanjurmarg was not a viable option for the construction of the auto shed and had changed the reservation of the land in the Aarey colony and had spent nearly Rs 200 crore on the preparations. And now they claim Kanjurmarg is best suited for the project, Mehta said.

CJ Datta said on Monday: “The collector is aware of a pending lawsuit. In your order, is there any mention of the suit? No reference? He just turned a blind eye … there should be a proper exercise of power. We will not allow this order to be maintained. At first glance we are of the opinion that the matter should go to the collector. Let him decide after listening to Garodia and others. “

The bank also sought to find out from Kumbhakoni whether the city’s civil court order also covered the 102 acres of land in question.

On Wednesday, Mehta said the state government was required to retract the order, leave the premises, and then hear the parties again.

On Wednesday the HC noted that an “interesting fact” was brought to its notice that the state government had previously requested 102 acres of land for the shed in a case of Suresh Bafna, which owns a portion of land in Kanjurmarg, and would hear the same along with the Centre’s request in February 2021.

“You have to wait for the decision of that question. After looking at the maps, we hear it’s the same storyline. Every day there is a turn of events, “noted CJ Datta.

While announcing the demolition of the subway car shed project at Aarey Colony in Mumbai in October, Prime Minister Uddhav Thackeray said the project would be moved to government-owned land in Kanjurmarg.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra’s deputy head Ajit Pawar said the state government could appeal to the Supreme Court against the High Court order. “In the Constitution and in the law, there is a provision to appeal against a court decision. So, it will be thought of, “PTI said, quoting.

Doing a veiled dig at opposition BJP, Pawar said the government’s decision to move the car depot project from Aarey to Kanjurmar seemed to have “hurt many people” and that is why the NDA-run Center made a “extreme step”.

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