The last thing Mumbai needs is to convert the entire hospital into a slum scheme, observed the Bombay High Court while directing the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to survey the King George V Memorial Hospital in Mahalaxmi and submit a report stating whether there is any encroachment on its premises.
“We are particularly anxious to avoid a situation where, at some point in the future, the encroachments become so widespread that we are confronted with a possible proposal to convert the entire hospital into a slum scheme. That is absolutely the last thing that this city needs,” said a division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Kamal Khata on Wednesday.
BMC directed to find out illegal encroachments on hospital premises
The High Court has directed the BMC to find out if there are any unauthorised or illegal encroachments on the hospital's compound in central Mumbai. The High Court was hearing a plea by the hospital, which is being run by a charitable trust, challenging two notices issued by the BMC restraining it from erecting a protective fence around its compound to prevent illegal encroachment.
The civic body issued notices to the hospital in December 2021 and March 2022 directing the removal of the fences put up by the hospital trust on certain portions of its compound.
Hospital says land encroached
Challenging these notices, the hospital contended that it had to put up the fences since over time large portions of the trust and hospital land were illegally encroached upon. There are open spaces within the hospital compound that are now encroached upon by illegal occupants and trespassers. This compromises the safety and security of the hospital staff and patients, the petition said.
Hospital’s Advocate Dinesh Purandare submitted that the BMC ironically is showing much “enthusiasm and alacrity to remove the protective fence” but is conspicuously missing concerning trespassers encroaching on the hospital land.
HC grants interim stay on BMC notices
The bench noted that other than putting up a mild steel fence, nothing further is being done by the hospital trust. The High Court remarked that “encroachments typically run to a pattern and follow a trajectory”. Expressing anxiety over the entire hospital premises being encroached upon, the High Court granted interim stay on the BMC notices.
The court asked the civic body to file its affidavit detailing what it found on the hospital premises, as both notices mention that a site inspection was carried out. “In other words, we would very much like to know whether the civic body noted any unauthorised constructions or occupancies in the open spaces or only saw the mild steel fence in respect of which it has issued a notice,” the bench underlined.
The High Court has kept the matter for further hearing on February 15, 2024.