The Bombay high court directed the assistant commissioner of R/North Ward to inspect the site of Hotel Chef, a purportedly illegal restaurant constructed by former Mumbai mayor Hareshwar Patil and his brother, who allegedly destroyed mangroves to do so. The court said the structure must be demolished if it is found to be unauthorised.
The division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice AA Sayed directed the assistant commissioner to file a compliance report by December 3. It posted the public interest litigation filed by Khar resident Edwin Britto for further hearing on December 6.
Britto had approached the high court in 2004, alleging that Patil and his brother had set up an unauthorised structure at Dahisar by destroying mangroves. He said the two then constructed a restaurant at the site.
Britto’s claim of mangrove destruction was supported by an affidavit filed by the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority. A site inspection by them revealed that a fishing tank behind the restaurant was covered on all sides by thick mangroves. It concluded that mangroves might have been destroyed to set up the structure.The affidavit added that the area was a no-development zone.
Patil and his brother Narayan said they did not destroy mangroves. They claimed that the structure was built in 1976. After putting up reinforced cement concrete (RCC) structures in July 2002, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) imposed a penalty on them, they said, adding that they paid Rs50,000, pursuant to the then commissioner’s order.
The bench, however, noted that the brothers had not submitted papers proving regularisation of the structure and annexed receipts showing only payments of Rs8,250. “Not a single document of regularisation has been placed on record,” the judges said .
The assistant commissioner said the RCC structure was put up under the guise of repairs, and notices under provisions of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act had been issued to the 1,880-square-feet structure.
From the affidavits filed by the respondents, the bench noticed that prima facie illegal construction was carried out on the site.