Mahul Residents case: Treat every citizen, rich or poor, with dignity; HC tells Maharashtra government

Mumbai: Giving it lessons on "equality", the Bombay High Court on Tuesday left the Maharashtra government red-faced over its "inhumane" approach towards the residents of Mahul village, the toxic hell of Mumbai. The HC has asked the government to treat every citizen equally.

A bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dangre lost its cool on noting, the government has done nothing in implementing the earlier orders of the HC, for granting Rs 15,000 per month to the residents of Mahul as a rent, so that they can shift themselves to 'safer places.'

The bench was dealing with a plea filed by residents of Mahul near suburban Chembur, seeking implementation of the HC orders. The plea highlighted the fact that another benches of the HC led by Justice Abhay Oka had last year ordered the government to deposit Rs 45,000 and pay monthly rent of Rs 15,000 to these residents, so that they can move to alternative accommodations.

This order was passed by Justice Oka's bench after considering the report of the IIT-B which concluded Mahul to be "unsafe for humans."

Over 15,000 people were shifted to Mahul by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) as part of its policy for Project Affected Persons (PAPs).

These PAPs were shifted after their houses were demolished as per the HC orders owing to them being within the impermissible periphery of the Tansa pipeline.

Following this order, the residents said, the civic body moved the apex court seeking a stay, however, the top court did not entertain their request.

Having heard this, CJ Nandrajog said, "The government cannot proceed in such a manner. You must treat every citizen in the state, whether rich or poor, with dignity. Ensure everyone is treated equally."

"You can manage over 5 crore people in the Kumbh Mela, but you claim inability in managing these 15,000 people. This isn't acceptable," CJ Nandrajog remarked.

The bench accordingly posted the matter for further hearing next week, when it is likely to pass a detailed order.

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