The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has approached the Bombay High Court seeking permission to carry out work pertaining to the construction of an integrated car shed for Metro lines 3, 4 and 6 at the disputed site in Kanjurmarg.
On Tuesday, when the Centre’s petition in the case came up for hearing before a Division Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G.S. Kulkarni, MMRDA’s lawyer Saket Mone informed the court about the application filed last month. The court said it would hear the case finally on March 12.
The MMRDA in its application said without the construction of the car shed, Metro lines 3 (Colaba-Bandra- SEEPZ), 4 (Kasarwadavali-Wadala) and 6 (Lokhandwala-Vikhroli) cannot be commissioned and made available for the use of public.
“Apart from problems caused to the public, the delay would also result in financial loss to the MMRDA,” it said.
The MMRDA, which is the Metro project implementing authority, sought modification of the December 16, 2020 order passed by the HC restraining authorities from carrying out any construction work pertaining to the car shed at the said land.
The high court had granted an interim stay on the October 1, 2020 order passed by the Mumbai suburban district collector allotting 102 acres of land in Kanjurmarg to the MMRDA for construction of an integrated car shed.
The Centre and the Maharashtra government are locked in a tussle over ownership of the land earmarked by the state for constructing the car depot which was earlier planned at Aarey Colony, a green belt in suburban Goregaon.
Last year, the Centre had filed a petition in the HC challenging the collectors order and said the land at Kanjurmarg belongs to its Salt Department.
The high court, while staying the collectors order and restraining authorities from carrying out any construction work at the land, had said it would take up the matter for final hearing and decide on the ownership issue.
The MMRDA in its application said it is “seeking directions to allow it to carry on with the work of the Metro car shed which is the heart and soul of the Metro network”.
The project implementing authority also said before the stay order was passed, it had already provisioned Rs 27 crore towards carrying out preliminary work, like soil testing, landfilling and so on at the site.
As per the MMRDA’s application, after the HC’s order in December last year, the Maharashtra government reassessed the viability and sustainability of the land at Kanjurmarg for construction of the Metro car shed and it was found to be best suited for the same.
“The said land at Kanjurmarg offers a unique geographical, topographical and locational advantage in as much as that as many as four lines of the Mumbai Metro rail can be serviced by an integrated car shed. This advantage cannot be found in any alternative site,” the MMRDA said.
The plan to shift the car shed from Aarey in suburban Goregaon to Kanjurmarg was to help save the forest at Aarey and also to avoid environmental damage, it said.
The MMRDA in its application said it has, at no time, attempted to claim title in the form of ownership on the land.
“The MMRDA is ready and willing to undertake to give all benefits and compensation to which the owner and/or the lessee would be entitled on acquisition of the said land to whomsoever may be the successful party in the dispute,” the application said.
The issue of ownership of land between the Centre and the state government can be resolved in an appropriate manner through proper mechanism and proceedings, it said.
“Both the parties have recognised the need for the Metro car shed and have expressed their willingness to give the said land to the MMRDA,” the application added.
It mentioned that one Mahesh Garodia claims to have an interest in the land as a lessee.
“No prejudice would be caused to Garodia in the event the MMRDA is permitted to utilise the land for the project in view of the undertaking given by the MMRDA to give all benefits and compensation to which the owner and/or lessee would be entitled to on acquisition of the land,” it said.
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