The two lakes at Borivli (West), which were filled up to beautify a garden, will have to be restored. This was the Bombay high court’s order to the state government on Thursday.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by activist Edwin Britto and College Bachav Samiti, seeking restoration of two lakes, which were filled and developed as gardens Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Gopal Shetty at Borivli (West). According to Britto’s petition, the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada) had developed a garden by filling up a lake spread over 3,381 sqm. Also, it beautified the area surrounding another lake — Eksar lake. The garden was developed from the MLA fund of Shetty, on latter’s recommendation.
A division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice SJ Vazifdar on Thursday directed the government to undertake steps for restoration of lakes and then consider recovering expenses from Shetty. While addressing Shetty’s counsel, chief justice said: “Every year you (Shetty) must be getting (MLA) funds. Mhada can restore the lakes using your next year’s funds.”
Government pleader DA Nalavade informed the court that the expenses should be recovered from the legislator. “As a deterrent, person responsible for destroying the lake should be asked to restore it so that environment is not damaged,” said Nalavade.
The court has also asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to get details of construction in the vicinity of the lake. Advocate for the petitioner argued that the cost for restoring the lake should be recovered from Shetty’s personal pocket as the government cannot be made to bear expenses twice (once for filling the lake and then for restoring it).
On Thursday, Mhada filed an affidavit saying that they had beautified the garden following an order from the government. On Shetty’s recommendation, the government had asked Mhada to beautify the garden.
Anil Sakhare, counsel for Shetty, argued that he had sent a letter to the government recommending beautification of the Borivli garden. “It was approved by a committee formed by Mhada,” said Sakhare.