EXPRESSING CONCERN over the decline of open spaces in the city, the Bombay High Court Wednesday observed that it was the government’s prerogative to provide citizens with recreational grounds.
Besides, the bench of Justices AS Oka and CV Bhadang held that the BJP office at Nariman Point had illegal additions. The judges, therefore, directed that the party needs to bring it down to a permissible area of 1,200 sq ft according to the Development Control Regulation of 1991. BJP has been given six months to carry out the exercise.
The order was in connection with a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by an association of residents of Nariman Point and Churchgate area, raising concern over a plot of land.
The PIL states that though the plot was reserved for a recreational ground in the Development Plan, it now holds offices of political parties like BJP, Janata Dal and public sector undertakings of the state like Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) and Employment Exchange.
The Court observed, “There are very few open spaces in the city. It is often alleged that it is turning into a concrete jungle. Citizens have the right to live; they need recreational grounds and open spaces where they can breathe.”
The government should seriously, remarked the court, consider shifting of its offices so that a substantial part of the area is emancipated.
“Needless to say that the political parties will cooperate and vacate the office,” it further remarked.
A government recognised eatery in the area was held to be an illegal encroacher by the HC. It has, however, assured to remove the structure on its own within six months.
Voicing the need of recreational grounds, the court asked the government to consider its implementation on the remaining land in “letter and spirit” within six months.