The Bombay High Court on Thursday dismissed a petition filed by Mafatlal Industries Limited (MIL) seeking Rs 1,600-crore compensation in lieu of 14 acres earmarked for expansion of Veermata Jijabai Udyan, popularly known as the Byculla Zoo.
The court’s decision is expected to pave the way for the expansion of the zoo.
According to a notification issued by the urban development department in 2004 and the title certificate submitted by the legal counsel of MIL, around 14 acres was leased out to MIL in 1913 for a period of 99 years. In the plan of the E Ward in the development plan of 1991, however, half of the land amounting to around seven acres was reserved as extension to the Byculla Zoo. However, in 2016, MIL approached the Bombay High Court through a writ petition claiming its rights to the land.
Arguing for the municipal corporation, senior counsel Anil Sakhare and advocate Rohan Mirpury argued that since the land belongs to the collector, it should be handed over to the BMC without any cost. They further said MIL is only the lessee and the land rightfully belongs to the state government. Since the land has been reserved for a public purpose, there is no reason for the corporation to pay TDR to a private company which is not even the owner of the land.
In April, Sanjay Tripathi, the director of the zoo, had said the BMC was facing difficulties in implementing the expansion work that entailed development of zoo animals, enclosure facilities since some animals were proposed to be shifted to the extension area that is under the MIL as per the approved plan of the Central Zoo Authority.