Bombay HC Says Electricity Transmission Towers In Public Interest

Bombay HC Says Electricity Transmission Towers In Public Interest

The court has, however, granted liberty to garodia to approach civil court and to claim damages / compensation against Kharghar Vikhroli Transmission Ltd (KVTL), which was awarded the contract to erect the towers, in accordance with law.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Wednesday, April 17, 2024, 11:01 PM IST
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Bombay HC | PTI

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has refused to pass an order directing removal of electricity transmission towers on land allegedly belonging to Mahendrakumar Garodia observing that they were erected in “view of larger public interest”.

The court has, however, granted liberty to garodia to approach civil court and to claim damages/compensation against Kharghar Vikhroli Transmission Ltd (KVTL), which was awarded the contract to erect the towers, in accordance with law.

“... in view of larger public interest, we do not find that any relief can be granted to the petitioner in this writ petition except the liberty to claim damages / compensation against KVTL in accordance with law,” a bench headed by Justice AS Chandurkar on Wednesday.

The court was hearing a petition by Garodia challenging the order passed by the Resident Deputy Collector and Additional District Magistrate on May 3, 2023, restraining Garodia from interfering with the laying of the towers.

KVTL is a licensee under Section 14 of the Electricity Act, 2003 and is empowered to transmit electricity in terms of the Transmission License issued to it. KVTL was granted the work of setting up a 400 KV Receiving Station and laying of associated transmission towers for strengthening the Mumbai Transmission System. It commenced work after obtaining requisite permissions, including from the high court pursuant to an order in a PIL.

KVTL was required to install 47 transmission towers, out of which seven towers were located on the lands in Kanjurmarg leased in favour of Garodia, by which 1,250 sq.mtrs of land was to be affected.

As Garodia opposed the work, KVTL approached the Resident Deputy Collector and Additional District Magistrate, which passed a prohibitive order on May 3, 2023. Garodia was then given an opportunity to put forth his say on May 17.

Meanwhile, Garodia approached the HC, which asked the district magistrate to give a hearing to Garodia, but refused to restrain KVTL from erecting towers, noting that it “was being carried out was in public interest and that the same was likely to affect only 1,250 sq.mtrs. of the lands claimed by the petitioner”.

The district magistrate passed an order on June 26 last year holding that the Resident Deputy Collector and Additional District Magistrate had no jurisdiction to pass the restraining order.

Garodia’s counsel Shyam Mehta submitted that KVTL laid down the towers on Garodia’s land without any authority of law. KVTL’s counsel Venkatesh Dhond submitted that it was empowered under provisions of the Act to lay down the transmission towers. Also, it had taken necessary permissions.

Union counsel, Shriram Redij, pointed out that Garodia was in possession of the lands as a lessee pursuant to an agreement dated October 15, 1917, for 99 years. The petitioner’s continued occupation of the land is unauthorised. Though renewal of said lease was sought, the same had not yet been granted.

“The work of laying the transmission towers has been found to be in public interest… Considering the nature of the work undertaken, we do not feel that it would be in public interest to direct the said transmission towers to be now removed so as to restore the petitioner’s lands to their original position,” the bench said while granting liberty to the petitioner to seek compensation.

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