Bombay High Court. File Pic
The Bombay High Court on Monday directed the Maharashtra government and Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) to file affidavits in response to a petition challenging the inclusion of the Mahim Nature Park in the Dharavi redevelopment project.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Abhay Ahuja was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) claiming that the Mahim Nature Park, which is a protected forest, has been unlawfully included in the redevelopment of Dharavi, Asia*s largest slum.
The PIL filed by NGO Vanshakti and environmental activist Zory Bathena stated that it wants to ensure that the park, admeasuring 27 acres, is not unlawfully covered under the proposed Dharavi redevelopment project.
The petitioners had earlier written to the project authority seeking a clarification on whether the park was included within the Dharavi notified area, when it should have been entirely deleted from the project documents.
Senior counsel Milind Sathe, appearing for the project authority, told the court on Monday that it has already clarified to the petitioners that the Mahim Nature Park was not included in the redevelopment project.
But the authority was, however, silent on whether the park would be shown in the category of "excluded area" in the tender documents.
The bench then directed the state government and SRA to file their affidavits clarifying their stand by January 2, 2023.
As per the plea, the Mahim Nature Park was declared as a protected forest in 1991.
In October 2022, a tender was issued calling for bids for the redevelopment of Dharavi. The tender grants the project proponent the right to acquire excluded areas, including the Mahim nature park, the PIL alleged.
The petition challenged the demarcation and inclusion of the protected forest of the park in the category of "excluded area" in the project tender.
"This demarcation and inclusion would unlawfully allow the project proponent to acquire/develop the Mahim Nature Park in contravention to its protected nature status," the PIL said.
"The Mahim Nature Park should have never been included within the boundary of the Dharavi redevelopment project and should be deleted from the project documents," it said.
The Adani Group had emerged as the highest bidder for the 259-hectare Dharavi redevelopment project and bagged it with its Rs 5,069 crore bid.
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