Court raps NMMC for closing its garden door to residents
The magnificent mayor bungalow on Parsik Hill is once again in the midst of a controversy.
The Bombay high court last Friday reprimanded NMMC for not allowing general public from entering the garden developed next to it. The issue has further been aggravated with CIDCO telling the court that the land belongs to it and that NMMC has not taken any development permission for it.
A division bench of Justice Shantanu Kemkar and Justice Makarand Karnik, is hearing a public interest litigation on the issue filed by RTI activist Sandeep Thakur.
The case reveals that NMMC that is going all out against illegal constructions and encroachments in the city has itself encroached up on CIDCO plot where a garden has been developed by it.
According to Thakur, “NMMC has taken plot number 156 and 157 from CIDCO for the construction of the mayor bungalow. It had in October 14, 1997 paid Rs 16.70 lakh for the 1,035 sqm area. Thereafter the bungalow was constructed. Gardens were then developed in front and behind the bungalow 10 years back.”
After Thakur sourced information to RTI on the bungalow, startling information came forward.
CIDCO has transferred just plot 156 and 157 to NMMC. However, NMMC has encroached upon plots 153, 154, 155, 158, 159 and 160 over an around of around 3,200 sqm. CIDCO has stated that it has not transferred these plots to NMMC and that it has encroached upon it. NMMC too has confirmed that the plot has not been transferred to it.
NMMC spent Rs1.77 lakh in 2013-14 for developing the garden on CIDCO land. An additional Rs9.99 lakh was spent in 2013 for a jogging track and other infrastructure in the garden.
CIDCO had given plot 160 to a company for developing a residential complex. NMMC has refunded the registration charges of Rs 4.49 lakh to the company.
Said Thakur, “NMMC has put up a signboard outside the garden declaring it to be a public garden. However, citizens are not able to use it. The garden has been made out to be a part of the mayor bungalow.”
Even as the issue is being debated in the court, a number of questions have arisen.
Stated Thakur, “How did NMMC encroach on the land that does not belong to it. It is a residential plot that CIDCO wants to sell. It has filed an affidavit with the court stating that the land belongs to it and it wants sell otherwise it’s budget will be disturbed.”
Thakur said, “The court has taken NMMC to task over the issue asking it to allow the public to use it. NMMC had told the court that access to the garden is disallowed due to security reasons.”
He added, “The court has asked NMMC to allow residents to use the garden till the next hearing. It has also asked it to submit to it what it plans to do ahead, allow residents or demolish the garden.”