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“How can you build palaces on land allotted for affordable housing” – Justice Dattu

PRESS RELEASE New Delhi, March 30

Hiranadani’s Special Leave Petition Dismissed by the upholding HC judgement.

 

“How can you build palaces on land allotted for affordable housing” – Justice Dattu

 

Today the Supreme Court Bench consisting of Justice H.L Dattu and Justice Chandramauli Kr. Prasad dismissed the SLPs filed by Niranjan Hiranandani of Hiranandani Gardens against the order passed by the Bombay High Court in a bunch of a Writ Petitions including one filed by Medha Patkar for National Alliance of People’s Movement & Others in 2008. While dismissing the Special Leave Petitions, the Court observed that the is fully justified in holding that the development in ‘Pawai Area Development Scheme’ on 230 acres of land was meant for affordable houses i.e. for constructing tenements of 400 Sq. Ft and 800 Sq Ft. as per the Tripartite Agreement in which the State Government and MMRDA were parties alongwith the original landholders. The Power of Attorney Holder for the original land holders i.e. M/s Hiranandani violated with impunity the very public purpose behind the development scheme, on 230 acres of land which was allotted at a pittance i.e price of Re 1 per hectare (40 paisa per acre).

 

Today the Supreme Court, while dismissing the Petitions, observed that instead of constructing affordable houses, palatial buildings have been constructed which are meant only for those who possess ‘Bentley’ and ‘Ferrari’, when in Mumbai there is not a square inch of land and poor people’s hutments are seen on the road. How can the property which is acquired and leased out for a specific public purpose of ‘affordable housing’ by the authorities can be given to the father, mother and relatives leading to amalgamation, which is a complete eye wash. “What is happening in this Country?”, the Court remarked with anguish.

 

Have you constructed even one tenement as per the conditions in the Tripartite Agreement? Justice Chandramauli Kr Prasad quipped. The Court also observed that the High Court has remarked about collusion of the officials of the State as well as MMRDA with the developer and therefore, at this juncture when the High Court is seized of the matter, they will not interfere with the order passed by the High Court. The Court hearing Adv. Mukul Rohatgi and Gopal Subramaniam who vehemently argued in support of Hiranandani’s, dismissed the Special Leave Petitions. Shri Shekhar Naphade, Senior Advocate appearing for MMRDA said that his conscience does not allow him to keep quiet and that he would like to state in the Court that the officials of MMRDA were in clear collusion with the developers and that the entire development is in violation of Tripartite agreement. Adv Sanjay Parikh appeared for the Petitioner, Medha Patkar and Adv Ashish Mehta assisted him.

The Backdrop:

Land originally belonging to the indigenous people in , was purchased by Verma, Sharma and others. Since the large chunk of this land in village Powai and Tirandaz was of a scale violating the Urban Land Ceiling Act then, it was acquired by the Bombay Metropoltan regional Development Authority( BMRDA) at a throwaway rate of 40p/ acre. Based on an official GR of 1986, exempting a developer from ceiling limit under ULCR Act in a scheme, but strictly for affordable housing. The tripartite agreement stipulated building of houses for low income group and middle class people, 50% with 40 sq mt (400 sq ft) area and rest 505 with 80 sq mt(800 sq ft). it is equivalent to 15% of FSI were to be handed over to State Government and other 15% of FSI of houses to be offered to Central Government agencies. A full fledged infrastructure with water supply, drainage etc and road was to be builds as well as open spaces were to be reserved and handed over to MCGM. However Hiranandanis built luxurious flats worth crores each, shopping malls, commercial complexes, business centre’s etc but not one affordable housing tenements. The cases were filed in Mumbai HC by some local residents and by NAPM through Medha Patkar claiming total violation of the agreement and breach of all rules and preconditions. The MMRDA too investigated the matter issuing notices it Hiranandanis brought out of report in 2008 recommending fine of worth Rs 2,000 crores and resumption of lands with MMRDA. However, the State got resorted to arbitration which arbitrarily reduces the fine to a pittance of 3 crores. This was questioned in the High Court and the High Court vindicated the Petitioner’s challenge. The High Court directed that the MMRDA , Petitioner and developer should sit together and file a report with details of property constructed and buildings, infrastructure open space etc. the High Court has directed the MMRDA to submit Report on April 12, 2012

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