The Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) has denied the allegations that the plot reserved for burial ground for Christian community has been handed over to M/s Balaji Enterprises, promoter of project Vihang Marina of the Vihang Group of Companies, to construct a luxury housing project.
An affidavit was filed by Satish Ugile, an officer with the TMC, while replying to a public interest litigation (PIL) by Melwyn Fernandes seeking action against the company and its promoters.
According to the plea, the plot of 37,000sqm at Bhayander was earmarked for a Sanyukta Smashanbhumi (multi faith cemetery) and Smruti Udhyan (memorial garden), and the notification to the effect was issued by the urban development department (UDD) on March 20, 2017. Of this, 3,000 sqm is said to be allocated to the Christian community of all denominations. Petitioner claimed that the entire piece of land is in possession of M/s Vihang Group of companies and a CC has been issued by the TMC for the project.
However, the TMC has refuted the allegations stating that they are “completely misconceived”. “The land reserved for Sanyukta Smashambhumi has no concern with the land on which development permission is granted to M/s Balaji Enterprises… There is a 12 meter road in between two lands and thus the allegations of the petitioner misconceived,” read the affidavit.
The process for development of Sanyukta Smashambhumi has started and work order has been issued to M/s Balaji Enterprises, who has been assigned the work of levelling of the land reserved for the Sanyukta Smashambhumi project, added the TMC.
Besides, the civic body has said that it has reserved plots for crematorium/ burial grounds which are to be used by all communities. “The reservation meant in the development plan are for cemetery/ burial ground / crematorium ground. The contention of the petitioner appears to be that the entire land is reserved for Christian community.”
The grounds situated at Mumbra and Kausa are for Christian community from Thane too. The plea also contended that the land is not fit for burial. Denying the claim that the 1,000 sqm new cemetery in Mumbra is not fit for use, the TMC affidavit says that the "said cemetery is being used by other communities and thus the use of said cemetery is functional".
The slums and structures on the reserved plots are existing prior to 1999 and thus are “protected slums”. Also, a notification was issued April 3, 2003, by which a 21000 sqm plot was dereserved from a playground and was included in residential zone.
Stressing in the need for reusing the burial grounds, the TMC affidavit says if the same are not reused then "there will be no space left for cremation grounds".
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