Even as the Maharashtra government assured the Bombay High Court that the Mahim Nature Park (MNP) was not included in the Dharavi Redevelopment Plan (DRP), the HC on Monday observed that the the park cannot be exploited for development so long as it is reserved as a "Nature Park" in the Development Plan.
A division bench headed by Acting Chief Justice (ACJ) SV Gangapurwala said: "So long as the Development Plan shows it as a Nature Park, no other activity can be carried out."
The bench disposed of a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by NGO Vanashakti and activist Zoru Bhathena after the Deputy Collector and Special Land Acquisition officer of the DRP with the Slum Redevelopment Authority (SRA) clarified that the MNP has been excluded from the DRP.
Disposing of the PIL, the HC noted: “The affidavit specifically and succinctly states that Mahim Nature Park (MNP) is excluded from the DRP and same is not going to be developed under the project. MNP is shown as reserved for the Nature park in the Development Plan and there cannot be any other usage so long as the development plan stands. The same certainly cannot be developed for any other purposes" the court said in its order.”
The redevelopment of Dharavi, Asia's biggest slum, has been under consideration for over three decades. However, only recently the Adani Group bagged the Rs 5,069 crore bid for redevelopment.
The PIL alleged that MNP, which was declared as a protected forest in 1991, may be unlawfully included in the DRP. The petitioners expressed apprehension pointing out that the October 2022 tender grants the right to acquire “excluded areas” (including MNP) for the project.
During the previous hearing, the high court had directed the SRA to clarify if MNP will be part of the project or not.
“Mahim Nature Park has already been excluded from the DRP and further that the Mahim Nature Park is not a part of the DRP”, read the affidavit filed by Pratibha Ingle, deputy collector and special land acquisition officer for the DRP with the SRA.
Also pre-bid clarification was issued to queries raised by prospective bidders wherein it was clearly stated that “… However, it is amply made clear that the Mahim Nature Park is not proposed to be included in the Dharavi Redevelopment Project…” read the affidavit by SRA, which was represented by senior advocate Milind Sathe and advocate Aparna Vatkar.
After going through the affidavit, the court opined that it was amply clear, so long as the MNP was part of the DP Plan as a Nature park, it couldn't be redeveloped and disposed of the PIL.
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