Mumbai: Activist Prabhu Chauhan's 3-year fight helps restore Kandivli land

Updated: May 01, 2019, 07:14 IST | Samiullah Khan

Kandivli land is called a lake in city survey records, a garden plot in the Development Plan (DP) of 1991 and 2034 and used for parking and waste dumping in reality

Mumbai: Activist Prabhu Chauhan's 3-year fight helps restore Kandivli land
The land is currently being used for two-wheeler parking

The three-year-long struggle of Kandivli residents has finally yielded them the desired results. Land encroached and reclaimed for a landfill and parking will now be vacated and restored.

Spread across an area of more than 12,000 square feet and worth Rs 12 crore, the land that is called a lake in government records (city survey), was encroached and used for garage dumping and parking purposes. Recently, the Bombay High Court, hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a social activist, directed the Collector of Mumbai to free the land by June 2019.

A picture of the city survey report of the land (calling it a lake)
A picture of the city survey report of the land (calling it a lake)

Social activist Prabhu Chauhan had in 2016 filed a PIL at the Bombay HC with regard to the land (City Survey Number 1172) on Mahatma Gandhi Cross Road No 3 in Kandivli West. The land was recorded as a garden plot in its property card and in the Development Plan (DP) of 1991 and 2034. It has, however, been illegally converted into a garage and parking space by someone in connivance with public authorities, alleged the founder of NGO Voice against Illegal Activities.

The land (marked in orange) is currently being used to park two-wheelers
The land (marked in orange) is currently being used to park two-wheelers

According to the complainant, he had emailed a complaint letter to the Collector of Mumbai Suburban district on March 18, 2016. Not having received any response, Chauhan wrote to the Chief Secretary of Maharashtra in May 2016 but that too failed, and so did his letter to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in August 2016.

Chauhan then began filing RTI applications with the Tehsildar and Chief Secretary. The Chief Secretary replied to him in September 2016 that the issue concerned the Urban Development Department, which told the activist that all the old records of the land were destroyed in the Mantralaya fire of 2012. Chauhan was asked to approach the Chief Engineer (Development Plan) of Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai.

Social activist Prabhu Chauhan
Social activist Prabhu Chauhan

In his response, the Chief Engineer said that the land was reserved for a garden in the revised DP, 2034 which is a continuation of the sanctioned DP of 1991. Chauhan then filed a PIL with the Bombay High Court. "I couldn't digest the fact that an entire lake was converted into a garage and parking space just for someone's benefit. When authorities turned a blind eye towards this issue, I filed the PIL," said Chauhan, adding, "After fighting for three years, the HC sought information from the department concerned and initiated action on my complaints."

HC to the rescue

The high court had summoned all parties concerned to give their replies on the matter on the basis of which the Collector's office filed an affidavit in court confessing that encroachment had indeed happened and promised to remove it before June 2019. "We haven't received the court order yet. I am on election duty so I am not updated about it," said Jaish Warghade, City Survey officer.

"We have had to run from pillar to post to get justice in this matter. The PIL ultimately got us some relief," said advocate Jamshed Ansari who presented the issue before the court. "Everybody can't afford to go to court to get justice or report lethargy on the part of the authorities. We are happy that encroachment will be removed in the next couple of months," he added.

Timeline of events

March 2016: Chauhan wrote to Mumbai Suburban Collector
May 2016: Chauhan wrote to Chief Secretary of Maharashtra
August 2016: Chauhan wrote to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis
September 2016: Chief Secretary replied to RTI
October 2016: Chauhan filed a PIL at the Bombay HC

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