The Bombay High Court directed the Maharastra and Slum Rehabilitation Authority to file affidavits in response to a position challenging the involvement of Mahim National Park in the Dharavi Redevelopment Project.
A division bench of Cheif Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Abhay Ahuja was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) claiming that the Mahim Nature Park, which is a protected Forest, has been unlawfully included in the redevelopment of Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum.
The PIL filed by NGO Vanshakti and environmental activist Zory Bathena stated that it wants to ensure that the park admeasuring 27 acres, is not included unlawfully, under the proposed redevelopment project in Dharavi.
Earlier the petitioners had written to the project authority asking for clarification on whether the park is involved within the Dharavi notified area and when it should have been entirely deleted from the project documents.
Senior counsel Milind Sathe, appearing for the project authority, told the court on Monday that clarification has been already given to the petitioners that the Mahim Nature Park was not included in the redevelopment project.
However, the authority was silent on whether the park would be shown in the category of the excluded area in the project documents.
The court directed the state government and SRA to file their affidavits clarifying their stand by January 2, 2003.
Mahim Nature Park was declared a protected forest in 1991 as per the petition.
IPL alleged that the tender was issued calling for bids for the redevelopment of Dharavi, in October 2022. The tender grants the project proponent the right to acquire excluded areas, including Mahim Nature Park.
The plea challenged the demarcation and inclusion of the protected forest of the park in the category of the excluded area in the project tender.
The PIL said, “this demarcation and inclusion would unlawfully allow the project proponent to acquire/develop the Mahim Nature Park in contravention to its protected nature status.”
It also said “The Mahim Nature Park should have never been included within the boundary of the Dharavi redevelopment project and should be deleted from the project documents,”
The Adani Group had appeared as the highest bidder for the 259-hectare Dharavi redevelopment project and bagged it with its Rs 5,069 crore bid.