Mumbai: HC seeks survey report of Banganga Tank allegedly affected by construction activities
The Bombay high court (HC) has directed the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, government of Maharashtra, to conduct a survey of the Banganga Tank at Malabar Hill — a state-protected heritage structure, after the trust responsible for the tank alleged that piling and construction activities undertaken by developers nearby had affected the natural underground water, flowing into the tank.
The directions were issued after the court was informed that construction activities were permitted provided the developers fulfilled eight conditions laid down by the directorate. The survey report has to be submitted to the court in a sealed cover on March 1.
On Monday, the division bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice Girish Kulkarni, while hearing a petition filed by the board of trustees of the Temples Charitable Institution and Funds of Gaud Saraswat Brahman Community, which takes care of the administration of the Walkeshwar temple and the Banganga Tank in the temple complex, was informed by advocate Devendra Rajapurkar that the tank was a state-protected monument and a grade-I heritage structure.
Rajapurkar submitted that the extensive piling and construction activity undertaken by developers near the tank was severely affecting the monument and the underground water streams flowing into the tank were being contaminated. He also submitted that there was an inflow of muddy water as well as accumulation of mud in the water of the tank in huge quantity.
The court was informed that the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums had issued a stop-work notice to the developers as they had failed to get permissions to commence piling and construction work.
Senior advocate Dr Milind Sathe for the developers, however, submitted that after the stop-work order was issued the developers had submitted a proposal and reports of technical experts to the directorate. After perusal and scrutiny of the same, on January 22, 2021, the directorate had lifted the stop-work order and permitted the resumption of piling and construction work provided the developers fulfilled eight conditions laid down by it. Dr Sathe added that the development activities were being carried out in strict compliance with the conditions.
After hearing the submissions, the court observed that the issues raised in the petition were serious, the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums should depute an officer to undertake a survey of the tank and ascertain whether the allegations made by the trust were true and whether the developers were complying with the eight conditions.
The court also directed that the officer should also ascertain whether the quality of water in the tank was being affected by the development activities and to submit a report of the above directions in a sealed cover and posted the hearing of the petition on March 1.
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