A large project coming up at Cumballa Hill should be inspected by an expert body to ensure that the hill is stable enough to support it, the Bombay high court said on Tuesday.
Residents of the area have been voicing their concerns about projects coming up there, saying the area is already prone to landslides.
A division bench of justice DY Chandrachud and justice AA Sayed said safety and gross violations (if any) on the part of the developer or sanctioning authorities are the court’s two major concerns about the project. The expert team should comprise a government agency as well as knowledgeable members from the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), the bench added.
“This is about human life, so let’s go into the issue of safety first,” justice Chandrachud said.
The court was hearing a petition filed by residents of an apartment at Altamount Road, who alleged that the drilling and piling work being undertaken by a developer on Cumballa Hill was causing landslides in the area. The Meher Apartments Cooperative Housing Society told the court that the construction activity was dangerous for the area’s residents.
On an older query by the court, the petitioners’ counsel Shiraz Rustomji had said that it’s more than just the view from Meher that was at risk here. He suggested that even the necessary permissions had been granted in a mindless and fraudulent manner.
Rustomji argued that from around 30,000 sq meters under the initial plan, Halkara Builders Private Limited (HBPL) are now looking to construct one lakh sq meters as part of a 60-floor building, and completely disregarding safety in the process.
He stressed that a proper geo-technical investigation should be conducted, because the only inspections done before by the developers were visual ones.
Appearing for the developer, senior counsel Iqbal Chagla suggested that a committee comprising from IITs in Powai, Kanpur and Delhi can look into the matter. He also provided a list of government and independent agencies that could be roped in.
The parties have been told to decide on the appointment of the agency by Wednesday.