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State changes stance in new airport land dispute

Bivalkar family says they’ve owned the 175-acre plot, earmarked for Navi Mumbai airport and currently in Cidco’s possession, for centuries.

mumbai Updated: Dec 09, 2011 01:42 IST
Kanchan Chaudhari
Kanchan Chaudhari
Hindustan Times

In a bid to save more than 175 acres of prime land at Navi Mumbai, earmarked for the city’s second international airport, the state government wants to reverse its earlier stance on the ownership of the said property.

The state wants to withdraw a statement it made before the Bombay high court more than five years ago, in December 2005, which purportedly amounted to admitting that the property — currently in possession of the City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco) — belonged to the Bivalkars – erstwhile rulers of Kalyan.

Advocate general Ravi Kadam on Thursday informed the division bench of justice DK Deshmukh and justice Anoop Mohta that the state government has filed a plea seeking permission to withdraw the statement. The plea will come up for hearing on December 13, along with cross petitions filed by Gangadhar Narayan Bivalkar and his younger brother Yeshwant on one hand, Cidco)on the other.

Claiming ownership rights over the property, the Bivalkar bothers have sought possession of it, contending that the state government and Cidco were depriving them of their valuable property and dispossessing them without paying compensation.

They have claimed ownership of the property based on an apex court verdict in 1939, by which the original title of their predecessor, VD Bivalkar and the nature of the Inam was confirmed over the plot by the Supreme Court.

In 1989, during another hearing regarding the contentious plot, the state government had assured the court that necessary instructions would be issued to Cidco to handover the land to the Bilvalkars, and the agency would take the appropriate steps.

The ownership of the plot of land has been a contentious issue for years, and several legal battles over it have followed. The latest round of petitions could spell fresh trouble for the international airport, which has already faced roadblocks previously over environmental clearances, compensation and rehabilitation of project-affected persons.

What is set to complicate the ownership issue further is that the heir of Sarkhel Kanhoji Angre, the celebrated chief of Maratha Navy, has jumped into the fray claiming ownership of the property. Daughters of Kanhoji’s son Raghojee — Kusum Jadhav and Bharti Pawar — have filed a plea seeking to intervene in the matter.

They have staked claims over the property stating they have several documents showing their ownership of the land.

First Published: Dec 09, 2011 01:41 IST