Bombay HC calls on central and state government to resolve past disputes
The Bombay High Court has asked the central and Maharashtra governments to “forget past conflicts of opinion” and decide quickly on the 102-acre land in Kanjurmarg to build a metro carshed, keeping in mind the “ increasing cost’ and the additional burden on ‘public money’.
A divisional bench consisting of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni has asked the two governments to resolve their disputes outside of court and focus on service to the public.
“Please forget past conflicts of opinion and try to make a fresh start. Every day the costs of the project are increasing. After all, it is the people’s money,” said CJ Datta.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Anil Singh, representing the central government, informed the court that on March 17, the Under Secretary of the Union Urban Development Department wrote a letter to the Secretary of Maharashtra to reconsider the decision of move the project to Kanjurmarg, citing reports prepared by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC).
Citing the DMRC report, Singh said construction of a carport at Kanjurmarg would not be feasible as there were several technical or operational issues including legal disputes that may arise.
The HC has asked the state government to clarify its position on the Centre’s letter to reconsider moving the carshed from the metro to Kanjurmarg.
On October 11, 2020, the state government had abandoned construction of a carshed at Aarey Milk Colony, part of which had been declared forest, and said the project would instead take place on land at Kanjurmarg.
On December 16, 2020, the HC had granted an interim stay on the order of the Mumbai Suburban District Collector who transferred 102 acres of land to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to build the metro carshed.
On Thursday, the HC was hearing an interim application filed by MMRDA to vacate or vary the December 2020 stay order.
Seeking permission to proceed with work on the project, MMRDA’s application stated that since it was an “emergency public project” and work had already begun, it was ready to undertake to provide all benefits and compensation to which the landlord and/or lessee would be entitled upon acquisition of the land under the Regional and Urban Planning Act of Maharashtra.
MMRDA’s lawyer said the technical issues could be resolved. If there was an expert opinion on Kanjurmarg land, then the authority would consider the same. However, he requested that the stay be canceled as work on the project needed to be completed.
The Chief Justice said: ‘We know what is going on. We are all here to serve the public. Why take personal disputes to court? Sort out those outside the field. These issues can be resolved… All we can say is end this stalemate now. Try to forget past opinions and start with a new path and the beginning.
Singh said there were no personal differences involved in the case and they were doing it for the public’s well-being. “We are doing this in the broader public interest, for the citizens of Mumbai in the long run… We are consulting experts in the field, who have also recommended transferring the project to Aarey Colony,” Singh said.
Darius Khambata, the state government lawyer, said large sections of the metro lines have been completed. “Unlike Aarey, four lines will come here. Whoever is entitled to the plot, I will pay the compensation,” Khambata said.
The HC has prevented the Maharashtra government from carrying out operations on the alleged salt flat lands until further notice. It remains to be decided whether the State or the Center owns the land.
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Posted: Friday 08 April 2022, 00:03 IST