CIDCO claims contested land was in its possession for several years
All decks have been cleared for the proposed international airport at Navi Mumbai. The Bombay High Court on February 1 allowed the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) to hand over the 1,830 ha, including the 63.5 ha embroiled in ownership dispute, to the Airport Authority of India. The court said the documentary evidence presented before it indicated that the contested land had been in possession of CIDCO for several years.
Construction work on the airport had hit a roadblock in 2010 when two residents of Ulwe village in Panvel—Gangadhar Biwalkar and Yashwant Biwalkar—claimed that the 63.5 ha was awarded to their family by Maratha warrior Sardar Raghuji Angre. Hearing the case in April 2011, the court ordered a status quo as the government failed to ascertain ownership of the land. In the latest hearing, CIDCO submitted documents showing that the government had acquired the land in the 1960s after the Inam Abolition Act, abolishing feudal land holding system, came into force. It acquired the land in 1973 for development.
The court, however, kept the Biwalkar family’s plea pending, ruling that if the claimants prove their ownership at a later stage, they would be entitled to appropriate compensation.
It also asked the state government to withdraw the statement made in 2005 that the Biwalkars owned the land after advocate general Ravi Kadam argued that the statement was based on the report given by forest department, which is not the competent authority to decide on ownership.
The Biwalkars had originally moved court in 1989 against the acquisition of their land by CIDCO and were sanctioned compensation of Rs 15,000. In 2005, following the instructions by the then minister of state for forest Subhash Thakre, the government pleader had accepted ownership claims by the Biwalkars and stated that orders for further action in accordance will be issued to CIDCO.
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