March 3, 2021 2:25:25 am
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) recently filed an interim application in Bombay High Court seeking to vacate or modify the interim stay on the October 1, 2020 order by Mumbai Suburban District Collector transferring 102 acre of salt pan land in Kanjurmarg to MMRDA to build a Metro car shed and an interchange station for proposed Metro corridors.
The MMRDA, in its application, has said that since it is a “public project of urgency” and work has already commenced, it is ready to give an undertaking that it will provide all benefits and compensation to which the owner and/or lessee would be entitled on acquisition of the land under the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act. In view of the same, it sought that it be allowed to execute the project work.
The HC, which had on December 16, 2020, restrained the Maharashtra government from carrying out operations on the salt pan land till further orders, is yet to decide whether the state or the Centre owns the land. It is likely to hear the pleas next week.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni was on Tuesday hearing a plea by Maheshkumar Garodia, who had filed an intervention plea in the petition filed by the Union government through the deputy salt commissioner claiming ownership of the land.
MMRDA counsel advocate Saket Mone told the court about the interim application filed last month by the project implementing authority. The MMRDA, in its plea, said that without construction of the car shed, Metro lines 3 (Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ), 4 (Kasarwadavali-Wadala) and 6 (Lokhandwala-Vikhroli) cannot be commissioned and made available for public use. “Apart from problems caused to the public, the delay would also result in financial loss to the MMRDA,” it added.
The authority further said that after HC’s interim order of December 2020, the Maharashtra government had reassessed the viability and sustainability of the land in Kanjurmarg and found that the land is “most suitable” for the construction of the car shed.
“The land at Kanjurmarg offers a unique geographical, topographical and locational advantage in as much as that as many as four lines of the Mumbai Metro rail can be serviced by an integrated car shed. This advantage cannot be found in any alternative site,” the MMRDA said, adding that the plan to shift the car shed from Aarey Colony to Kanjurmarg was to help save the forest at Aarey and “avoid environmental damage”. The authority also said that it has never attempted to claim the title in the form of ownership on the land.
“The Metro car depot, which also includes a casting yard, is indispensable as regards to the functioning of any Metro line. If such a car shed is not allowed to be developed forthwith, Metro lines 6, 4 and 3 cannot be made functional. Resultantly, a major portion of the Metro project will be disrupted, leading to failure of the entire scheme of Mumbai Metro Rail project as envisaged for the city of Mumbai. It is worth noting that the delay or disruption in development of Metro car shed on the said land will cause a loss of Rs 2.5 to Rs 3 crore per day to the public exchequer,” it added.
The MMRDA further said that the dispute over ownership of land between the Centre and the state can be resolved in “an appropriate manner through proper mechanism and proceedings”, as both parties have recognised the need for the car shed and are willing to give the land to MMRDA.
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