Metro car shed dispute: Bombay HC asks Central, state govt to resolve past conflicts

Asks state to clarify stand on the Centre’s letter to reconsider shifting of metro car shed to Kanjurmarg

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Friday, April 08, 2022, 12:03 AM IST
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The Bombay High Court has asked the Central and Maharashtra governments to ‘forget past conflicts of opinion’ and decide expeditiously on the 102-acre plot in Kanjurmarg to build a metro carshed, keeping in mind the ‘escalating cost’ and additional burden on ‘public money’.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni asked both the governments to resolve their conflicts outside the court and focus on serving the public.

“Please forget past conflicts of opinion and try to make a new beginning. Every day, costs of the project are escalating. After all, it is the people’s money,” said CJ Datta.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Anil Singh, appearing for the Central government, informed the court that on March 17, the undersecretary of the Union Urban Development department had written a letter to the Maharashtra secretary to reconsider the decision to shift the project to Kanjurmarg, citing reports prepared by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC).

Citing the DMRC report, Singh said that constructing a car shed at Kanjurmarg would not be feasible as there were several technical or operational issues, including legal disputes that could arise.

The HC has asked the state government to clarify its stand on the Centre’s letter to reconsider shifting the metro carshed to Kanjurmarg.

On October 11, 2020, the state government had scrapped the construction of carshed at Aarey Milk Colony, part of which was declared as forest, and said the project would instead come up on land at Kanjurmarg.

On December 16, 2020, the HC had granted an interim stay on the order by Mumbai suburban district collector who had transferred 102 acres of land to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to build the metro carshed.

The HC, on Thursday, was hearing an interim application filed by the MMRDA seeking to vacate or modify the December 2020 order of stay.

Seeking permission to go ahead with the project work, the MMRDA application said that since it was a ‘public project of urgency’ and work had already commenced, it was ready to give an undertaking that it would provide all benefits and compensation to which the owner and/or lessee would be entitled on the acquisition of the land under the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act.

The MMRDA’s advocate said that technical issues could be resolved. If there was an expert opinion on the Kanjurmarg land, then the authority would consider the same. However, he requested that the stay be vacated, as the project work had to be completed.

The CJ said: “We know what is happening. We are all here to serve the public. Why bring personal differences to court? Sort those outside the court. These matters can be resolved… All that we can say is end this stalemate now. Try to forget past opinions and start with a new way and the beginning.”

Singh said that there were no personal differences involved in the matter and that they were doing it for the welfare of the public. “We are doing this in larger public interests, for the citizens of Mumbai in the long run… We are consulting experts in the field, who have also recommended shifting the project to Aarey Colony,” said Singh.

Darius Khambata, the state government’s counsel, said that large sections of the Metro lines have been completed. “As opposed to Aarey, four lines will come here. Whoever is entitled to the plot, I will pay the compensation,” said Khambata.

The HC has restrained the Maharashtra government from carrying out operations on the alleged salt pan land till further orders. It is yet to decide whether the state or the Centre owns the land.

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