PAP Tenements Are Required In The City: Bombay High Court

PAP Tenements Are Required In The City: Bombay High Court

Refuses to grant interim stay on BMC’s PAP tenement policy

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Thursday, February 29, 2024, 11:11 PM IST
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Bombay High Court | File

The Bombay High Court on Thursday refused to grant interim relief in a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking cancellation of the BMC scheme for procuring project-affected persons (PAPs) tenements alleging several irregularities.

The court observed that such schemes were required for the city to house PAPs who are affected by several projects, including vital infrastructure projects.

Court's observations

"Given the fact there is a challenge to policy regarding generation of PAP tenements and PAP housing scheme, we believe wider public interest requires that the kind of interim relief petitioner is seeking not be granted… It would cause prejudice to the state which requires PAPs housing to relocate persons affected by projects including vital infrastructure projects meant for betterment for the city,” a bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Kamal Khata said.

Pleas challenging BMC scheme

The HC was hearing pleas filed by a BJP leader and advocate Sagar Devre challenging the BMC scheme of procuring residential tenements from open market and its contracts for construction of 13,971 tenements for PAPs tenements in the city.

The PILs sought cancellation of the schemes alleging several irregularities.

During the hearing, Justice Patel asked: “You are saying there should not be PAPs? PAPs are required by the city.” However, petitioner's advocate Mukesh Vashi said: “[Yes.] But not anyhow.”

The judge said the petitioner can’t decide what should be the policy for PAP. “If they [BMC] decide to encourage building of PAP then it is their decision.”

When Vashi said that there should be some [monetary] realisation in favour of the BMC, Justice patel said: “Assume you are completely right. There will be a delay. State will start the process all over again. These people have to be put somewhere. You are saying this entire PAP project is a scam.”

When the court said it was issuing a rule in the PIL, Vashi submitted that there till their arguments are heard and the validity of scheme is decided, there should be an interim order restraining creation of additional PAP tenements in the city.

However, the bench noted that last November it dealt with an issue where there questions were raised over procurement / construction of PAP tenements by various authorities, like BMC, Mhada, etc. and it felt that there was a need for a policy.

"Need of the city for creation of PAP policy"

“We recognised the need of the city for the creation of PAP policy,” the bench said, adding that there was a problem due to lack of defined policy for prioritising projects.

Following the HC order last November, the State constituted a task force headed by former Allahabad high court Chief Justice DB Bhosale. The committee has submitted a detailed report to the government and the same is under consideration.

Since the PIL has challenged the validity of the policy, the court has issued notice to the Advocate General of the state to assist in the matter, and kept the matter for hearing on April 2.

MVA govt's plan to build tenements for PAPs

During the erstwhile Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, under then chief minister Udddhav Thackeray, and the BMC in 2019 planned to build tenements for PAPs who would be affected due to widening of roads and drainage lines. Accordingly a list was prepared which indicated that approximately 35,000 PAP tenements would be required with each including 50-1,000 tenements in each civic ward.

In March 2022, the BMC issued letters of acceptance for four PAP camps at Mulund East, Chandivali, Prabhadevi and Bhandup. These contain 7439, 4000, 529 and 1903 tenements each. Further, the BMC has floated tenders to purchase these tenements from the builders at market rate.

The plea highlights that the BMC will purchase these tenements from the builders, who have already been offered TDR (transferable development rights) [permission to build and sell property elsewhere in lieu of the surrendered area to the BMC]. Also, they are permitted to use FSI (Floor Space Index) of 5.4. This means that the total built-up area of buildings can be 5.4 times the plot size.

In addition, the builders are granted exemption from payment of government premium for the additional FSI.

As per the existing contracts, the corporation will pay TDR and credit notes worth Rs8,302 crore to contractors and the builders will reap profits to the tune of Rs6,330 crore, the plea alleges.

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