Mithi Development: 'PAPs Have To Vacate, Can't Stay Indefinitely,' Says Bombay High Court

Mithi Development: 'PAPs Have To Vacate, Can't Stay Indefinitely,' Says Bombay High Court

The court remarked that it cannot decide whether a particular infrastructure project is or is not necessary and the same is the prerogative of the planning authority.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Thursday, March 21, 2024, 10:19 PM IST
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Bombay High Court | File pic

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday said that those eligible persons affected by the Mithi River Development and Pollution Control Project have to either accept alternate tenement or accept monetary compensation as per the policy. However, they do not have the option of rejecting both the options and "continue to stay indefinitely on the site".

The court remarked that it cannot decide whether a particular infrastructure project is or is not necessary and the same is the prerogative of the planning authority. It, however, directed the BMC to give sufficient notice to the persons whose tenements would be affected so they have enough time to vacate the premises.

The court was hearing two petitions filed by the Ashiyana Welfare Society and by one Sameer Ahmed Choudhary, challenging the demolition notices issued by the BMC.

The project includes the work of widening, deepening, construction of RCC retaining wall, construction of service road, laying of sewer lines along banks of the river and construction of interceptors to divert the dry weather flow coming from various outfalls into nearby sewer lines, etc. This is to ensure that there is no deluge like situation that the city witnessed in 2006.

"There are two distinct dimensions which arise in these petitions. One is the question of rights of these persons in relation to the public project. Clearly, writ court cannot be expected to decide whether such a project is or not necessary. It is for planning authority. Project affected persons also cannot dictate municipal requirements," a bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Kamal Khata said.

The judges noted that in view of the BMC affidavit, there was nothing more they can do since the civic body has chalked out a detailed rehabilitation policy for the PAPs where choice is given for either accepting alternate tenement or accept monetary component calculated according to policy.

"No writ court can determine the amount of compensation, nor rewrite that policy. These are purely executive decisions. They do not lend themselves to judicial reviews, unless they are irregular and arbitrary. There is nothing before us to say that (for the current project)," the bench added.

BMC counsel Anil Sakhare said that they will carry out the work in three phases from Kalina Road Bridge to CST Road Bridge, in which 741 structures – 343 residential and 398 commercial structures – will be affected. Sakhare assured that sufficient notice will be given to the PAPs.

The court rejected the petitioners’ request to keep the petition pending saying: "Petitioners want us to continue this petition. This presupposes a great deal of mistrust on our part of the BMC and other authorities. We have no such mistrust."

The BMC affidavit filed by Assistant Engineer (Maintenance), L Ward, Nitin Deshmukh, said work is required to be carried out and is of “utmost necessity to avoid any flood-like situation” along LBS Road in Kurla, during monsoon season, especially at the time when high tide coincides with heavy rainfall, as the said river stretch comes under the tidal zone, which was witnessed by the City of Mumbai July 2005.

Work completed

- 95% widening and deepening of the Mithi River

- 80% Completed work of the construction of the retaining wall

- 30% work of the construction of the service road completed

Affected structures: 741

Residential: 343

Commercial: 398

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