10 YEARS ON No solution yet to ‘illegal’ homes on pvt forest land

Mumbai: Five lakh people residing in flats built on private forest land are waiting for their properties to be regularized for almost a decade.
“The government is completely indifferent to the plight of these middle-class residents. It is not easy to survive in Mumbai when all your life savings are invested in a house you cannot occupy,” said Prakash Paddikal,
president, Hillside Residents Welfare Association.
The private forest lands are spread across Mulund, Thane, Bhandup and Mahul in the eastern suburbs and Kandivli to Goregaon in the western suburbs. The BMC’s Development Plan of 1967 and 1991—approved by the government—marked these areas for land use. The BMC approved building plans on these lands and even issued occupation certificates.
In 2002, the Bombay Environmental Action Group filed a PIL on encroachment of private forest land in the
Bombay HC. The court asked for a list of encroachment. The revenue department then began issuing notices correcting land records, inserting the name of the forest department as owners.
The housing societies filed a PIL in 2006, stating that they had moved in legally. The HC upheld the government’s contention that these were encroachments. The residents challenged the decision in the Supreme Court. It set up a Central Empowered Committee to decide the issue. Residents were asked to make a payment varying from Rs 6 per sq feet for individual flat owners to Rs 120 per sq feet for builders as net present value for the land in lieu of regularization. But when the money was paid, the Union ministry of environment and forests objected, saying the penalty was based on the premise that it was barren land. It said since the land adjoins the national park, a dense forest, the penalty should be more. Residents were asked to pay 50% more for regularization. They refused are awaiting the Supreme Court verdict.

Source : Times of India