HC halts MHADA’s redevelopment of GTB Nagar societies | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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HC halts MHADA’s redevelopment of GTB Nagar societies

BySahyaja MS
Apr 22, 2024 09:06 AM IST

The Bombay high court recently granted an ad-interim stay against the Maharashtra government’s decision to redevelop at least 25 housing societies in GTB Nagar

Mumbai: The Bombay high court recently granted an ad-interim stay against the Maharashtra government’s decision to redevelop at least 25 housing societies in the GTB Nagar refugee colony (Guru Teg Bahadur Nagar), also known as Punjabi colony, in Sion. The move came in response to a challenge from a developer who had secured redevelopment agreements with some of these societies. The developer contested the cabinet’s redevelopment decision, along with subsequent government resolutions and tenders related to the project.

A housing society in GTB Nagar in Sion-Koliwada where MHADA’s had proposed to redevelop some 25 housing societies (Hindustan Times)
A housing society in GTB Nagar in Sion-Koliwada where MHADA’s had proposed to redevelop some 25 housing societies (Hindustan Times)

A bench of Justice G.S Patel and Justice Kamal Khata was hearing the petition of Lakhani Housing Corporation, a construction company from Navi Mumbai, that had acquired contracts to redevelop some of the housing cooperative societies in GTB Nagar. These societies, housing at least 1,200 tenements, were established for Punjabi and Sindhi refugees between 1954 and 1987 under the Displaced Persons (Compensation and Rehabilitation) Act, 1954. Over time, the buildings deteriorated and were declared dilapidated by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

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In 2013 and 2014, Lakhani approached several of these societies with redevelopment proposals, resulting in the appointment of the petitioner corporation as their developer through general meetings. As the registration of the rest of the societies had expired by then, private agreements were reached between Lakhani and the society members for redevelopment consent. Subsequent to this, the petitioner corporation invested significant sums, totaling over 9 crore, as corpus money to the residents and also covered litigation expenses against BMC demolition notices.

After failed litigations, several buildings were razed between 2019 and 2022. Prior to demolition, transfer of possessions was made to the petitioner corporation by several societies. However, in 2023, the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) proposed redevelopment of 25 buildings, claiming government ownership of the land. MHADA claimed that a federation called the Guru Teg Bahadur Nagar CHS Federation Limited, formed by the residents, has sought their assistance in redeveloping these societies. This was despite the fact that objections were raised against this federation by several housing societies with some of them filing complaints with the registrar and the police.

Despite clarification that the land was privately owned, MHADA proceeded with the proposal, leading to a cabinet decision in February 2024. Pursuant to this decision, the Maharashtra government, through its housing department, notified a Government Resolution (GR) outlining the redevelopment plan. The petitioner argued that the Cabinet Decision, GR, and subsequent actions are unconstitutional and null and void, as they infringe upon contractual rights conferred upon them by the societies. They contended that MHADA lacks jurisdiction and that the proposed redevelopment would nullify existing agreements.

The Bombay high court has temporarily halted the government’s redevelopment plan, citing concerns about jurisdictional authority and legality. An ad-interim stay has been granted until the next hearing on May 8. The court has highlighted the need for further examination of the circumstances surrounding the proposed redevelopment before any further steps are taken.

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