Bombay HC tells Maha govt: Rehabilitate or pay people displaced along Tansa pipeline

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court today said it was the Maharashtra government’s obligation to rehabilitate people displaced after their houses located in the vicinity of the Tansa water pipeline here were demolished. If the government is unable to do so, it should pay the displaced people monthly monetary compensation till they are rehabilitated, it observed.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), in compliance with a previous high court order, has undertaken demolition of all encroachments, including unauthorised residential and commercial structures, along with the Tansa water pipeline that runs across nine administrative wards of the city.

The government had decided to accommodate the displaced people in Mahul village in the suburbs. However, they refused to move there citing high pollution levels due to presence of refineries in the area. The people also relied on observations (regarding air pollution in Mahul) made by the Mumbai bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in a related matter while expressing their reluctance to shift there.

“We cannot force people to go stay in Mahul in the light of observations made by the NGT. The state government has two choices – either accommodate these persons elsewhere or give them monthly monetary compensation till they are rehabilitated,” a division bench of Justices A S Oka and Riyaz Chagla said.

By not rehabilitating the affected population, the government was ultimately stalling the demolition process that would then result in a violation of court orders, it noted.

“The state government does not seem to be concerned. It is your (the government’s) obligation to rehabilitate every project-affected person,” the court maintained.

The high court is hearing a bunch of petitions filed by some of the displaced persons. The court had last week directed the government to name an expert agency which would carry out an inspection of the proposed rehabilitation site at Mahul and check if all basic amenities were available there. The government today informed the bench that it would approach the IIT-Bombay to do the job. The bench posted the matter for further hearing on June 22.

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