The Bombay High Court on Friday set aside a notice issued by the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) to Atlanta Limited directing it to all stop construction on a three-hectare land near Mumbra, saying the area was part of the “bullet train project-affected area”.
The TMC, in its notice, had claimed that the buildings were coming up on a land where the Rs 1.08-lakh crore Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project – spread across three districts of Maharashtra – is coming up.
The petitioner, Atlanta Limited — a construction and development company that is building three residential towers of 20-storey each — had challenged the TMC’s “totally bad and illegal” stop-work notice dated May 2, 2018.
The division bench of Justice S C Dharmadhikari and Justice B P Colabawalla set aside the TMC notice and directed the Thane Collector and municipal corporation to follow due process of law under land acquisition. The bench observed that the authorities have failed to adopt proper proceedings under the Land Acquisition Act.
In absence of the same the stop work notice cannot be sustained, it said.
In a recently filed affidavit, Sudam Pardeshi, Sub-Divisional Officer of Thane, had stated that the land owned by Atlanta Limited appeared in the new proposal of the bullet train project.
In its petition, filed through senior counsel M M Vashi and lawyer Aparna Devkar, Atlanta Limited has stated that it is the owner of the land in question at Sheel village near Mumbra that falls under TMC’s jurisdiction. It added that the three buildings were to be constructed in a phased manner, for which building permission was granted by the TMC on February 14, 2012.
The developer contended that of the 234 flats in two of the high rises that were built in Phase I of the project – 229 of which have been sold. The third highrise is under construction under Phase II.
The petition stated that TMC had granted the project a commencement certificate on March 16, 2012. The company had also obtained a no-objection certificate on March 29, 2012, from the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited. As it was agricultural land, the petitioner obtained permission for non-agricultural purpose in January 2013. The petition added that developer sold 229 of the 234 flats and obtained Occupation Certificate (OC).
In all, 200 owners have shifted to the flats, the petitioner informed the court.
The petitioner told the court that they came across a public notice, dated March 13, 2018, – published in a local newspaper – wherein the Thane Collector declared that the process to acquire various lands required for the bullet train project is to be undertaken by the NHSRCL. There was no mention of the developer’s land in the advertisement.
However, on May 2, 2018, the company received a notice from the TMC – served to its architect – asking it to stop work as its land was to be acquired for the bullet train project.
On June 11, 2018 the petitioner informed the Thane Collector that its development layout has been approved and out of the three buildings, two have been constructed in Phase I and OC has been received for the same. The petitioner also pointed out that the “land is not shown to be affected in the public notice” of March 13.
On August 21, the petitioner received a copy of the plans showing the affected land. The developer said that after “being aggrieved” by the May 2, 2018 notice and also not being permitted to continue with construction work, they were compelled to move the court.