Asks it to provide flats for economically weaker section of the society first
Social activists fighting land grab by builders have a reason to cheer. The Bombay High Court has restrained Mumbai-based Hiranandani Developers from carrying out further construction at a township it is developing in suburban Powai until it provides flats for the economically weaker sections of society. The court also put on hold the sale of the flats till further orders.
The land was given on lease to Hiranandani in 1985 to build houses for poor. But in gross violation of all terms and conditions it built sky scrapers, housing societies and malls for the rich and the affluent.
The February 23 order came after social activist Medha Patkar filed a petition against Hiranandani for irregularities and fraud in development of the township. “It is ironical that the government of Maharashtra was kind enough to give 121 hectare of land to Hiranandani at the rate of 40 paisa per acre (1 acre = 0.4 hecatre). But it continued to evict and demolish the homes of busti dwellers in Mandala, Sathe Nagar, Golibar, Kannamwar Nagar and others areas,” says Patkar.
Reacting to the decision, the social activist says, “it is a victory for the struggles of the working classes of Mumbai who live in slums, bastis and chawls. They face eviction and are constantly termed as encroachers.” The interim judgment of the high court vindicates our stand and once again proves criminal nexus between builders, politicians and bureaucracy. We welcome the directions of the court and hope the land will be returned to the original owners or used for the urban poor, she adds.
The high court bench comprising justice Mohit C Shah and Roshan Dalvi also accepted the charge of criminal intent and illegality in land allotment to Hiranandani Developers and building of Hiranandani Gardens. It said the petitioners are free to initiate criminal proceedings against the developers, state government and any other statutory authorities.
The court ordered the developers to construct 3,000 flats–1,500 flats of 400 square feet and 1,500 of 800 square feet –to be handed over to the state government. The government will then allot these to the lower income group and middle income group people at the rate of Rs 135 per square feet, the rate prevalent in 1985. The court accepted the contention that huge losses have been incurred by the government due to violations by Hiranandani developers but didn't pass any judgement on that since there is a separate arbitration case ongoing in the Bombay High Court between the state and the developer.
While posting the case for final hearing on March 29, the court directed Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, state government, developers and petitioners to jointly prepare diagrams showing the extent to which the land has been used and how much remains to be used.
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