The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) received a lashing from the Bombay High Court on Thursday, which said the agency was “worse than politicians”.
The court said this in response to the development authority’s demand for shops on skywalks. “What will happen if you have shops on skywalks? You (MMRDA) are becoming worse than politicians,” said Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, refusing to entertain MMRDA’s application for construction of shops on some of the skywalks in the city.
A division bench of Justice Chandrachud and Justice J.P. Devdhar refused to interfere with an earlier high court order of January 2009, against shops or hawkers on skywalks.
The MMRDA had moved the high court seeking that they be allowed to construct shops on the skywalk at Kanjur Marg to rehabilitate project-affected persons (PAP).
The court refused to entertain the application. “Now you want to put them (shops) on our heads,” Justice Chandrachud said.
Senior counsel Rafiq Dada and advocate Kiran Baglia, representing the MMRDA, said the skywalk will be more than seven to eight meters wide and there will be enough space for pedestrians also.
There are 112 PAPs, who lost their livelihood, on the Santacruz-Chembur Link Road, which is coming up with World Bank funds. Dada argued that the MMRDA has assured the World Bank that it would rehabilitate the PAPs. “The shops can be relocated on the Kanjur Marg skywalk,” said Dada.
The court, however, was not impressed. “This is not Singapore,” Justice Chandrachud said. “This is democratic India. Gradually all (space) will be encroached upon.”
Opposing the MMRDA’s application, advocates Jamshed Mistry and Dipesh Siroya argued that the high court had said on January 30, 2009 that there will be no hawkers or shops or any obstruction on skywalks.
Mistry and Siroya represented the Federation of Retail Traders’ Welfare Association who had filed the original petition against the construction of shops and hawking on skywalks in Mulund, Dadar and Grant Road. Since the petitioners had mentioned only three skywalks, the MMRDA came to the court seeking clarification on whether they could have shops on the Kanjur Marg skywalk or others.