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BJP MLA Ashish Shelar Files PIL Against Urban Development Dept, Formerly Headed By Eknath Shinde, Over De-Reservation Of Prime Bandra Plot

Sharmeen Hakim
2 July 2022 4:41 AM GMT
BJP MLA Ashish Shelar Files PIL Against Urban Development Dept, Formerly Headed By Eknath Shinde, Over De-Reservation Of Prime Bandra Plot
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Even as Eknath Shinde, former state Urban Development Minister was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra yesterday with BJP's support, a PIL was filed in the Bombay High Court by a BJP MLA against the alleged de-reservation of a part of prime trust land in Mumbai for development under the DCR – 2034.

MLA Ashish Shelar has challenged a UDD notification dated March 12, 2021 and a subsequent corrigendum sanctioning alleged de-reservation/and or modification, proposed by the Bai Avabai Petit Parsi Girls Orphanage on a prime plot in Bandra, Mumbai.

In 1913 the Bai Avaibai Framji Petit Girls High School was established on the property by donor Bai Hamabai Framji Petit after selling her ornaments and establishing an orphanage for Parsee girls in her mother's memory. The plot was subdivided for various public purposes and reservations in the 1991 development plan and in the draft 2034 development plan, from 2016.

Subsequently, 2.2 acres have been culled out for development, according to a Times of India report cited in the petition. Reservations for a municipal market with an old age home and student hostel, playground/ garden have been deleted and certain other reservations like primary/ secondary school (in addition to JP Petit) are relocated, according to the petition.

The MLA alleged that trustees of the Orphanage connived with state officials for de-reservation and are in the process of siphoning the trusts properties for private gain.

"The arbitrary and illegal actions on behalf of the State Authorities, Bai Avabai Petit Parsi Girls Orphanage and KBK Realtors, the land reserved for the benefit of the public is being illegally de-reserved and/or modified thus, causing grave and irreparable losses to the public at large and to prevent illegal siphoning of properties/assets of Bai Avabai Petit Parsi Girls Orphanage," the plea states.

It adds that the authorities, without applying their mind, and at the behest of the Orphanage and KBK Realtors LLP, de-reserved or modified the reservations proposed in draft development plan, which in effect "reduces the land reserved for the public amenities and creates avenue for private persons to exploit the land earlier reserved for public amenities, for personal commercial gains."

Before de-reservation, the UDD didn't properly deal with Shelar's objections from August, September, October and December 2018, the MLA alleged. He added that the State authorities (Urban Development Department) are custodians of the property and it's their duty ensure the land is not required for the purpose it was reserved.

"The petitioner has reasons to believe that these relocation and deletion of reservations have been done in a clandestine manner to aide the builder in commercially exploiting the property."

Significantly, Shelar said the Orphanage has received a huge sum from KBK Realtors LLP, without the Charity Commissioner's permission therefore the agreement between the two is null and void. The commissioner is required to ascertain the sale is in the trust's interest and monies are not being siphoned off.

Therefore, Shelar has sought for all the records related to the dealing to be produced in the court and thereafter directions to the Charity Commissioner to Initiate an enquiry against the Orphanage.

In the meantime, the Shelar has sought directions to the BMC not to process any development permission on the land and a stay on the notification and corrigendum.

Shelar is represented by Advocate Abhishek Salian and Saket Mone of Vidhii Partners and the petition was filed in February, 2022. It was listed before the bench led by the Chief Justice yesterday, however, could not be taken up due to paucity of time.

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