In a 368-page order, Justice S Radhakrishnan and Justice S C Dharmadhikari struck down the official interpretation of 'open land' as defined in the 2001 amendment of Development Control Regulations (dcr) for Greater Bombay, 1991. In the original dcr, the total open land freed from over 58 defunct textile mills in Mumbai were to be equally shared between mill owners for commercial exploitation; the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (mcgm) for creating open spaces; and the Maharashra Housing and Area Development Authority (mhada) for low-cost housing. But the 2001 amendment changed the rules in favour of mill owners/builders by defining 'open land' as mill land without any built-up area, thus reducing land available for sharing by almost 80 per cent (See 'There is nothing august about Mumbai', Down To Earth, September 30, 2005). Now, the hc has redefined 'open land' as total land that would be available after bringing down the mill structures [including both built up and non built up area]. This has to be now equally shared between mill owners, mcgm and mhada.
Whereas environmentalists are jubilant, some mill owners like National Textile Corporation have decided to approach the Supreme Court post-Diwali. The hc also struck down the sale of 5 ntc mills worth Rs 2,020 crore. The state government, meanwhile, will not challenge the order.
-- Nidhi Jamwal Mumbai
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