Private forest land issue still haunts 3L residents

  • Vaishnavi Vasudevan, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Apr 06, 2015 00:44 IST

Despite the Supreme Court order to regularise houses on plots labelled private forest land, at least three lakh residents living along the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Thane, Kandivli, Borivli, Goregaon and Dahisar areas are again facing the threat of losing their homes.

The state government recently issued an order claiming only the societies of the 18 petitioners will be considered legal. The others will be listed as encroachers and will continue to face the threat of demolition.

In January 2014, the Supreme Court had quashed the state government’s decision to term hundreds of housing societies on private forest land as encroachers. While the government recently started regularising the buildings, it restricted the process only to the 18 petitioners.

“We have simply followed the Supreme Court order. The petitioners have been struck off from the list of private forest land as encroachers. The rest of the buildings can’t be considered,” said Shekhar Channe, Mumbai suburban collector.

The residents are now helplessly making rounds of government offices.

“We have approached the collector and the municipal commissioner office several times, but they are reluctant to initiate any process for regularisation. We were told that there is no order to regularise our building. Over 15,000 people in Thane are affected by this issue,” said Sanjay Singrapure, a resident of Ghodbunder Road in Thane.

In 2006, the state revenue department had declared 117 acres of land as part of private forest land, thereby terming 5 lakh residents as encroachers.

A total of 110 housing societies in Mulund, Nahur and Bhandup belt, along with four slum pockets, have been regularised. “The names of our buildings were struck off [the list] by the government after the SC order. All the buildings in the nearby localities were part of the petition,” said Prakash Padikkal, president, Hillside Residents’ Welfare Association (HIRWA), which had moved court.

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