The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has moved the Bombay High Court seeking a modification of the order dated December 16, 2020 by which the Court had granted an interim stay on the transfer of 102 acres of land at Kanjurmarg to the MMRDA for carrying out works towards the Metro Car Shed Project.
When the matter was mentioned on Tuesday before the Bench presided by the Chief Justice, the Court directed all parties to complete their pleadings and posted the application along with the writ petition on March 12 for final hearing.
The Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni had earlier directed for a stay on the Project in a plea filed by the Central government claiming ownership over the said portion of the land.
The order resulted in a stay on the operation of the Collector’s order dated October 1, 2020 and on the ongoing construction operations of the integrated car shed depot being carried out by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (DMRCL). MMRDA had transferred the land to DMRCL, which was subsequently conducting soil testing on the land, before the dispute reached the High Court
MMRDA has urged the Court to accept the undertaking to make available and to give all benefits and compensation to which the owners would be entitled to on acquisition of the said land.
“It is clarified that MMRDA has at no time attempted to set up the title in the form of ownership and necessarily, MMRDA would claim title through whomsoever is held to be the owner of the said land. As such MMRDA is ready and willing to abide by the consequences in law that may ensure to such owner, in lieu of the use of the project land for the said project and as such, the competing interests of the aforementioned parties qua the said land would in no manner be affected if the project land is utilised for the implementation of the public project. Acceptance of such undertaking and passing of consequential orders will be in public interest of a critical public project,” the application reads.
Stating that an undertaking from a responsible officer of the MMRDA ought to be sufficient to protect the rights of such parties pending the resolution of such disputes, MMRDA has prayed for acceptance of the undertaking by the Court.
The application states that considering the importance of the Project and the urgency of the issue, MMRDA had already commenced work on the project site pursuant to handover of possession of the land.
They claimed to have utilised Rs. 27 crore in carrying out such operations.
It is contended that as regards the dispute pertaining to the land title between the Centre, the State and and the alleged land owner, Maheskumar Garodia, the construction and implementation of the car shed for a project of vital and significant public importance ought not be stalled.
MMRDA has further submitted that considering the “overwhelming benefits and public importance” of the Project, the land ought to be permitted to be used by MMRDA for construction of the car shed.
It is argued that the State government has also conducted an assessment of the land and concluded in their report of January 21, 2021 that the project land is the most suitable for the construction of the Metro Car Shed.
After the Shiv Sena-led coalition government came into power later that year, 800 acres of the Aarey area was declared as a reserved forest and the State decided to develop the Car Shed at Kanjurmarg instead.
The Central government subsequently moved the High Court challenging the order granting land at Kanjurmarg to the MMRDA for construction of the Metro Car Shed under the Mumbai Metro Rail project.