Two tribal brothers approached the Bombay high court on Tuesday challenging the state government's decision to grant Lavasa Corporation the authority to acquire land and act as a special planning authority for the 2,000-acre area earmarked for a hill city project near Pune.
Bandya Bhau Walhekar and his brother Babu from Mulshi tehsil of Pune district have sought the quashing of the notification issued by the urban development department (UDD) on June 12, 2008, contending that statutory powers like the planning authority cannot be delegated to a private company registered under the Companies Act 1969.
A division bench of justices DD Sinha and VK Tahilramani has posted their petition for hearing on January 31.
In a petition filed through advocate Prakash Ambedkar, the Walhekar brothers have further contended that the notification was based on wrong
interpretation of certain provisions of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1956.
They moved the high court after sub-divisional officer of Maval, in 2010, issued a notice asking them to show-cause why they should not be dispossessed of their property, admeasuring about 10 hectares and 86 acres. According to their petition, the land was declared surplus under the Maharashtra State Land Ceiling Act and was allotted to them by the state government.
The petition states that after receiving the notice, they inquired with the revenue authorities and found that the land had been transferred in the name of Lavasa Corporation, which was trying to dispossess them of the property, even though they hadn't sold it. They have also sought orders restraining Lavasa from dispossessing them, since the land is the only source of livelihood for their family.
On June 1, 2001, the UDD had earmarked lands of 18 villages from Mulshi and Velhe tehsils of Pune district for a hill station, and Lavasa was chosen for its development soon thereafter.
The hill city project ran into rough weather after the Union ministry of environment and forests found construction activity at the site had begun without obtaining mandatory environmental clearance, which the company contended was not necessary under the state government's policy for hill stations.