December 3, 2014 @ 09:40 AM
Private land owners may move court if the state government attempts to acquire their encroached lands. "It is our private land. The government cannot force us into any slum rehabilitation scheme," said one of the landlords, not wishing to be identified.
On December 3, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis announced that the state would acquire about 2,000 acres of encroached land belonging to five of Mumbai's biggest private land owners if they fail to come forward to rehabilitate slumdwellers under the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) scheme.
The five land owners are F E Dinshaw Trust (controlled by Nusli Wadia), A H Wadia Trust (whose managing trustee is Muncher Cama of Mumbai Samachar), Byramjee Jeejeebhoy family, Veekayal Property and Mohammed Yusuf Khot trust.
"We challenge the government to point out any of our land, which is encroached," said a spokesperson of Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Properties Ltd. "The company sold all parcels of land with slums in the last decade," he said. In the 1960s, the housing board had acquired 200 acres of Jeejeebhoy land in Goregaon. Since then, most of it has been encroached.
The F E Dinshaw Trust, whose administrator is industrialist Nusli Wadia, too is not expected to give up without a fight. In the past, Wadia has fought tooth-and-nail court battles to protect his properties including his mills in central Mumbai. The Dinshaw properties are mainly in the Goregaon-Malad belt. The A H Wadia Trust, which has large land holdings across the city, is believed to have a corpus of close to Rs 1,000 crore. It is learnt that this cosmopolitan trust does not believe in redeveloping its properties. It would rather sell its encroached land lock, stock and barrel. The Wadia Trust too has dragged the authorities to court in the past when the government failed to pay it compensation for the lands acquired, said sources.
The Veekayal Properties land is mainly located in the Borivali-Dahisar belt, but a large chunk of it has been taken over by Kalpataru. Government officials said the Slum Act empowers the state to acquire land for public purposes like slum rehabilitation. "The courts have upheld the powers under this Act," said housing secretary Debashish Chakravarti.
Source: The Times of India, Mumbai