Bombay HC Directs BMC To Halt New Construction At Andheri's Joggers Park, Orders To Ensure No Further Encroachment Comes Up

Bombay HC Directs BMC To Halt New Construction At Andheri's Joggers Park, Orders To Ensure No Further Encroachment Comes Up

The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by five residents who are members of Lokhandwala Joggers Park Association seeking demolition of an unauthorised gurudwara constructed inside Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Joggers Park citing inaction by BMC.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Friday, May 10, 2024, 12:19 PM IST
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Locals Protest Against ‘Illegal’ Gurudwara Inside Joggers Park In Andheri's Lokhandwala | FPJ

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to ensure that no further construction or encroachment comes up in the Joggers Park at Lokhandwala in Andheri west. The court has also directed to ensure that there is no damage or disturbance to the Mangroves nearby.

“We place the responsibility on Assistant Commissioner ‘K’ Ward/Municipal Corporation of ensuring that no further construction or encroachment comes up in the Joggers Park at Lokhandwala. Respondent Nos. 7 to 9 will also ensure that there is no damage or disturbance to the Mangroves as concern is expressed in that regard,” a bench of Justices Nitin Jamdar and Milind Sathaye said.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by five residents who are members of Lokhandwala Joggers Park Association seeking demolition of an unauthorised gurudwara constructed inside Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Joggers Park citing inaction by BMC. The association has over 650 members.

According to the plea, the park was built in 2003 by MHADA and was initially maintained by Millenium Foundation. Subsequently, in January 2013 it was handed to Celebration Sports Club for maintenance and upkeep.

Security Cabin Converted To Religious Structure

During the Covid-19 pandemic, a group of people associated with the Club’s secretary started distributing food packets and water outside the park. After the park was permitted to be opened, they began serving langar inside. Thereafter they “unlawfully” converted a security cabin into a religious structure and set up a kitchen and storeroom, the plea alleged.

Besides, throughout the day, prayers and bhajans are broadcast on loudspeakers which causes inconvenience to hundreds of walkers and joggers who visit the park, the plea added.

Following complaints by the local residents, the BMC issued notices on January 23 and March 4 wherein information is called for from Celebrations Sports Club / The Samarth Nagar Lokhandwala, Punjabi Association of Lokhandwala Andheri (West) and Sanjha Chula Guru Ka langar Trust on the allegation of illegal encroachment and construction at Joggers Park, Lokhandwala [respondents 7, 8 and 9 respectively].

The BMC has asked them to submit permission from Competent Authority, approved plans, ownership documents etc. It also stated that if no document or permission is submitted, then necessary action would be instituted.

Also, a notice was issued by the member of the Mangrove Protection and Conservation Monitoring Committee asking whether there is any damage to the mangroves or whether any construction activity is going on within 50 meters of the mangroves.

Advocates for the respondents, S Bharucha and Ameet Mehta sought time to file their replies. The advocates assured the court that “no further construction or encroachment will be permitted in Joggers park”.

While granting time to the respondents to file replies, the HC had asked the BMC to “take this notice to the logical end”.

Petitioners’ advocates Subhash Jha and Raveena Yadav pointed out to the court that the structure falls within a 50 meters buffer zone of a mangrove forest and food waste is dumped on the mangroves.

The court has said that it is the respondents' responsibility to “maintain hygiene and not litter garbage in public places and in the Park”. The HC has asked the assistant municipal concerned to ensure that necessary action is taken and all rules and regulations are followed by the respondents.

The HC has kept the PIL for hearing on June 26.

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