80 villagers to finally get compensation for their land acquired in 1970 for setting up Navi Mumbai

Between 1965 to 1970, the State Government decided to establish a new town to reduce pressure on Mumbai by exercising powers under the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act (MRTP Act). It accordingly, notified lands situated at 96 villages as a site for New Bombay and commenced acquisition proceedings under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Sunday, March 27, 2022, 11:32 PM IST
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80 villagers to finally get compensation for their land acquired in 1970 for setting up Navi Mumbai | File Photo

Forty-six years after 80 villagers, whose lands were acquired for setting up the township of New Bombay (Navi Mumbai), the Bombay high court has asked the Maharashtra government and City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra (Cidco) to clear their dues within eight weeks.

A division bench of justices RD Dhanuka and SM Modak directed the authorities to clear the dues of the farmers, observing: “In our view, the CIDCO ought to have deposited the amount with SLAO (Special Land Acquisition Officer) in respect of the lands acquired for New Mumbai Project in accordance with the Government Resolution…”

Between 1965 to 1970, the State Government decided to establish a new town to reduce pressure on Mumbai by exercising powers under the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act (MRTP Act). It accordingly, notified lands situated at 96 villages as a site for New Bombay and commenced acquisition proceedings under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894.

In February 1976, government issued various notifications for land acquisition in these 96 villages. It was decided that they would be paid at the then market rate of Rs 25 per square metre.

The state government disburses compensation amount to Cidco, who then forwards the same to SLAO for final disbursement to villagers.

The HC was hearing a petition filed by 15 agriculturists whose lands were notified for acquisition in 1970.

Villagers’ advocate Shriram Kulkarni argued that of the 378 claims submitted by agriculturists, the SLAO had decided only 178 claims.

In 2017, a Maha Lok Adalat was organised, and the government agreed to pay the compensation at Rs 25 per square metres within six months.

As the government did not pay the compensation, the villagers filed the petition in HC.

CIDCO’s advocate Ashutosh Kulkarni argued that as of February this year, of the 125 claimants, it had received an amount for only 73 claims from the government. Of these, it has already forwarded the amount of 52 claimants to SLAO for final disbursement.

CIDCO claimed that it did not have funds to pay the villagers. It further contended that the villagers have an alternate remedy.

Disagreeing with Cidco’s stand, HC said it cannot claim that the petition was not maintainable as it has “not complied with its part of the obligation under the said Government Resolution”.

“In our view, stand taken by the CIDCO in an affidavit in reply is not a bonafide plea and is taken just to deprive the petitioners to recover the compensation even at the rate agreed by the State Government which amount is liable to be deposited by the CIDCO,” observed HC.

The court has also observed that the government “cannot cause any further delay in sending the decrees passed by the Lok Adalat to CIDCO for making a deposit in case of 51 cases”.

Rapping government and Cidco, HC observed: “The respondents having acquired the lands of the petitioners’ long back are bent upon to delay the payment of compensation on one or other flimsy grounds. CIDCO cannot be allowed to raise a plea that it has no funds available for making a deposit with the SLAO after obtaining possession of the lands from SLAO long back and utilizing those lands for various purposes.”

HC has directed the Cidco to clear claims of 29 villagers in two weeks.

Also, it directed the state government to clear the dues of 51 villagers within eight weeks.

Forty-six years after 80 villagers, whose lands were acquired for setting up the ‘satellite city’ of New Bombay (Navi Mumbai), the Bombay high court has asked the Maharashtra government and the City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra (CIDCO) to clear their dues in eight weeks.

A division bench of Justices R D Dhanuka and S M Modak directed the authorities to clear the farmers’ dues, observing: “In our view, the CIDCO ought to have deposited the amount with SLAO (Special Land Acquisition Officer) in respect of the lands acquired for New Mumbai Project in accordance with the Government Resolution…”

Between 1965 and 1970, the state government had decided to establish a new town to reduce the pressure on Mumbai by exercising powers under the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act (MRTP Act). It accordingly notified owners of land in 96 villages as the site for New Bombay and commenced acquisition proceedings under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894.

In February 1976, the government issued various notifications for land acquisition in these 96 villages. It was decided that they would be paid at the then market rate of Rs 25 per square metre.

The state government disburses the compensation amount to the CIDCO, which then forwards the same to the SLAO for final disbursement to villagers.

The HC was hearing a petition filed by 15 agriculturists, whose lands were notified for acquisition in 1970.

The advocate for the villagers, Shriram Kulkarni, argued that of the 378 claims submitted by agriculturists, the SLAO had decided only 178 claims.

In 2017, a Maha Lok Adalat was organised, where the government agreed to pay the compensation at Rs 25 per square metre within six months.

As the government did not pay the compensation, the villagers filed the petition in HC.

CIDCO advocate Ashutosh Kulkarni argued that as of February this year, it had received from the government the amount for only 73 of the 125 claimants. Of these, it had already forwarded the amount due to 52 claimants to the SLAO for final disbursement.

The CIDCO claimed that it did not have funds to pay the villagers. It further contended that the villagers had alternatives.

Disagreeing with the CIDCO’s stand, the HC said the former could not claim that the petition was not maintainable as it had “not complied with its part of the obligation under the said Government Resolution”.

“In our view, stand taken by the CIDCO in the affidavit in reply is not a bona fide plea and is taken just to deprive the petitioners from recovering the compensation even at the rate agreed by the state government which amount is liable to be deposited by the CIDCO,” observed HC.

The court has also observed that the government “cannot cause any further delay in sending the decrees passed by the Lok Adalat to CIDCO for making deposit in case of 51 cases”.

Rapping both the government and the CIDCO, HC observed: “The respondents, having acquired the lands of the petitioners long ago, are bent upon delaying the payment of compensation on one or the other flimsy grounds. CIDCO cannot be allowed to raise a plea that it has no funds available for making a deposit with the SLAO,after obtaining possession of the lands from the SLAO long back and utilizing those lands for various purposes.”

HC has directed the CIDCO to clear the claims of 29 villagers in two weeks.

Also, it directed the state government to clear dues of 51 villagers within eight weeks.

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