MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday suspended an order passed by the Mumbai Suburban District Collector that allocated 102 acres of salt marsh land in the Kanjurmarg area of Mumbai for the construction of a Underground car garage.
A division bench by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Judge GS Kulkarni also prevented the authorities from carrying out any construction work on the land.
The Center and the MVA government led by Shiv Sena in Maharashtra are locked in a brawl over ownership of the land allocated by the state for the construction of the car depot that was previously planned at Aarey Colony, a green belt on the outskirts of Goregaon.
The Union government has petitioned the High Court challenging the October 1, 2020 order issued by the collector allocating land for the construction of the auto shed and claimed the land belongs to its salt department (of the center ).
“We cannot allow the collector order of October 1, 2020 to continue. The order must go. We are admitting the petition and granting relief as requested by the petitioner (Union government) in the prayer clauses’ h ‘and’ I ‘”the court said.
As per the ‘h’ prayer clause, the Union government had asked the court to suspend the execution of the October 1 collectors’ order, transferring possession of 102 acres of land to the Metropolitan Region Development Authority of Mumbai (MMRDA) for the construction of an integrated car shed for the subway lines.
In the “I” prayer clause, the Center asked the court to prevent the MMRDA from carrying out any construction work on the land.
On Monday, the HC suggested that the state government consider withdrawing the collector-approved order.
On Wednesday, Attorney General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, appearing for the state government, told HC that the state was ready to withdraw the order and give a new hearing to the Union government, but construction work would continue in the ground.
Kumbhakoni told the court that soil analysis works are currently underway on the site.
The high court, however, noted that when it was of the prima facie opinion that the collector’s order to transfer the possession cannot continue, then how can it allow construction work to continue on that land.
On Wednesday the court granted the suspension and admitted the petition for the final hearing in February.
The Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, consisting of Shiv Sena, NCP, and Congress, opposed the request and said the land allocated to the MMRDA for the subway shed is owned by the state government.
The Union government in its request said that the entire salt marsh land in the area, including the 102 acres allocated to the MMRDA, belongs to the Center’s salt department.
The previous BJP-led government of Maharashtra had decided to build the car shed Mumbai Metro line 3 in Aarey Colony, in the western suburbs, despite opposition from environmentalists and activists to the extensive cutting of trees for the project.
The current MVA government led by Uddhav Thackeray recently made the decision to move the car park from Aarey to Kanjurmarg.
It decided to build an integrated car shed in Kanjurmarg for metro lines 3, 4, 4A and 6, instead of building separate car parks for these lines.