The Supreme Court stayed on Friday an order of the Bombay High Court directing the state government to pay Rs 15,000 as a rent to eligible project-affected people (PAP) residing at Mahul and along the Tansa water pipeline, till August this year.
A vacation bench of Justice M R Shah, Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Ajjikuttira Somaiah Bopanna of the Supreme Court was hearing a petition moved by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation challenging the HC order. The apex court has granted four weeks to the residents of Mahul, the respondents in the case, to file a counter affidavit.
The bench said, “In the meantime, there shall be stay of the operation of the impugned order and judgment passed by the High Court.” The matter will be heard next in the first week of August.
Following the Bombay High Court’s 2009 directive – to remove all encroachments near Tansa pipeline – the state government had decided to allot tenements at Mahul, in Chembur, to accommodate the occupants of the structures which were existing on January 1, 2000.
Around 1,000 families, who were shifted to Mahul from eastern Mumbai’s Ghatkopar area near the Tansa pipeline in 2017, had protested against the relocation, claiming that they had developed health issues within an year after they were relocated.
In the order, passed by a division bench of Justice A S Oka and Justice M S Sanklecha of the High Court on April 3, it was noted: “The PAP cannot be forced to take accommodation in a polluted area, where air pollution is life threatening, as per the National Green Tribunal order… If rehabilitation is not done properly, it may affect rights of people under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.”
The high court said if the state government is not doing justice to the PAP, at least it should consider the 1.80 crore population of the city, which receives water from Tansa pipeline. The court had earlier held that the PAP living along the Tansa pipeline are a threat to it.
The High Court bench had directed the state to communicate with all the eligible persons and find out if they would prefer to stay in Mahul or take money from the government, to find their own accommodation.
The court had directed: “The government shall pay each family Rs 15,000 per month, along with Rs 45,000 refundable deposit by way of rent, for those persons who choose to forfeit their right to a tenement in Mahul.”