Activist takes IIT-B to court, alleging land encroachment

Bhathena has said that IIT have themselves constructed several buildings right on the banks of Powai Lake. On land, that appears to be inside the protected buffer zone around the lake, his plea states

Narsi BenwalUpdated: Saturday, March 12, 2022, 09:06 AM IST
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Powai Lake | Wikimedia Commons

In a new twist to the controversy pertaining to the construction of the BMC’s ambitious cycling track project at Powai Lake, activist Zoru Bhathena has approached the Bombay High Court claiming that the civic body isn’t using its own land abutting the lake, which he claims in “encroached” upon by IIT-Bombay.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Makarand Karnik will hear the matter on Monday.

Bhathena has filed an intervention application in a PIL filed by two students of IIT-Bombay challenging the work of the project. The bench has already stayed the project. As per Bhathena, the BMC is the owner of Powai Lake.

His plea states, “To the best of my knowledge, BMC’s land boundaries extend for some distance beyond the lake waters i.e., there is a land buffer zone around the waters of Powai Lake, which also belongs to the BMC.”

It states that IIT-Bombay is located on the banks of the lake. The boundaries between IIT land and the BMC land appear never to have been demarcated.

As per the plea, IIT Powai is in possession of, and claims all the land, right up to the lake waters (leaving no buffer land for BMC).”

In this fashion, Bhathena claims that over 50 per cent of the periphery land around Powai Lake is claimed by IIT.

Similarly, Renaissance Lake Chalet Hotel and Raymonds are in possession of certain areas around Powai Lake. These properties also touch the lake waters, with no demarcated buffer zone, the plea claims.

According to Bhathena, the BMC had in April last year, issued a tender to demarcate the land, however, the same was withdrawn. As per the plea, “Without verifying their own land boundaries and without ascertaining whether the existing road falls on BMC or public land, the civic body have simply planned the cycling track inside/right on the periphery of the lake waters.”

Bhathena has said that IIT have themselves constructed several buildings right on the banks of Powai Lake. On land, that appears to be inside the protected buffer zone around the lake, his plea states.

“Demarcating the land boundaries around the lake will also assist to further protect the lake from such ecological destruction,” it further states.

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