The Bombay high court (HC) has asked the Maharashtra government to frame guidelines about construction norms around prisons by August 7.
The government recently amended the Maharashtra Prison Manual and reduced the buffer zone – where no construction is allowed – around central prisons from 182 meters to 150 meters. However, building projects are still stuck, because of a lack of guidelines about height restrictions and other norms to be followed.
The division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice AK Menon was hearing a petition filed by Dosti Realty, challenging the validity of a December 2014 government resolution that ordered setting up of standing advisory committees to consider proposals for construction within 500 meters of prisons.
The developer had approached the high court as one of its redevelopment projects in the vicinity of Arthur Road Jail is held up for want of a no-objection certificate from the prison authorities.
The realty firm undertook the work of redeveloping Vinayak Vasudev Chawl on NM Joshi Marg and rehabilitating its 270 occupants. The chawl is located 272 meters from the peripheral wall of the Arthur Road Jail.
Responding to the petition, additional government pleader Milind More told the court that the state had, on May 28, 2015, notified amendments to the Maharashtra Prison Manual and reduced the no-development buffer zone around central prisons from 182 meters to 150 meters. While the new buffer zone for district prisons is 100 meters, for sub-jails it is 50 meters.
More, however, pointed out that the standing advisory committee, comprising the civic chief, police unit head and superintendent of the prison concerned, will not be able to consider construction proposals beyond the buffer zone for want of guidelines, and sought time to frame the necessary guidelines. The court accordingly granted the state government time up to August 7.
The court has now directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to consider the developer’s plea for a go-ahead, as the site is beyond the buffer zone. The direction came after the developer’s counsel, advocate Jyoti Sinha, stated that the construction work will not begin unless the guidelines are framed by the government.