Five lakh people residing in flats built on private forest land are
waiting for their properties to be regularized for almost a decade.
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.
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