In a major relief for more than 5 lakh residents in the Bhandup-Mulund-Thane and Borivli-Goregaon belts along the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, the state government has decided to withdraw a review petition it had filed in the forest land issue against a Supreme Court order that was in favour of the residents.
In January this year, the SC set aside a Bombay high court ruling that had declared these residents as “encroachers” as their homes were built on private forest land. But the state filed a review petition against before the apex court.
The decision to withdraw the review petition was taken on the basis of the additional solicitor general’s opinion that the petition did not have legal grounds. “The additional solicitor general said the suit was not maintainable, and hence, we will be withdrawing it,” said a senior forest department official, who did not wish to be named. The official added that the review petition was filed to get the correct definition of private forest area. “But, now we have no option.”
The residents, who were unhappy over the government’s decision to file a review petition, said the whole process was a waste of time. “The Supreme Court, in its January 2014 order, had already admonished the state government for its inept handling of the issue. The authorities have wasted nine months of our time with this review petition, after we had won the case in the Supreme Court,” said Prakash Paddikal, president, Hillside Residents Welfare Association (HIRWA).
The HIRWA has demanded that the government now correct land records of the revenue department to regularise the constructions.