MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court on Monday directed the Maharashtra government to move resettled people out of Mahul within 12 weeks.
Nearly 5,500 families, who were displaced last year when the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) demolished all encroachments and illegal constructions along the Tansa water pipeline, were resettled by the government at Mahul, adjacent to eastern Mumbai suburb of Chembur. The people had moved court demanding resettlement at a better, non-polluted neighbourhood.
A division bench of the Bombay High Court had directed the state government on April 3, to deposit Rs 15,000 per month as rent and an additional Rs 45,000 as refundable deposit in the bank accounts of these residents and other project-affected people. The state government had moved a plea against the order.
While hearing the state government plea on Monday, the division bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dangre said the Maharashtra government cannot force any person to stay at such a residential colony in Mahul.
The bench directed the government that the 5,000 families should either be shifted out in 12 weeks or be paid a rent of Rs 15,000 per month. The court also said no more people should be shifted to Mahul.
The government will have to either accommodate the displaced persons elsewhere or give them Rs 15,000 each month as rent so that they can find their own accommodation, the bench said.
Making people stay in the heavily air polluted Mahul area of Mumbai may not only pose health risks but also increase security concerns on refineries located in the vicinity, it added.
The bench relied on an order passed by the National Green Tribunal in December 2015, stating that the presence of volatile organic compounds in Mahul makes the air pollution in the region harmful for human health.
“We have perused reports prepared by three government agencies - the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, the Central Pollution Control Board and NEERI - which show that the air pollution in Mahul continues to be disturbingly high and to this day, poses threat to human life,” the court said.
After the bench passed its order, the BMC sought a stay so on it that it could approach the Supreme Court. The bench, however, refused to grant the stay.