Having your own home in Mumbai is nothing less than a luxury and people end up investing their life time’s savings in buying their dream home. But what if one fine day you wake up and find out that your home has been declared illegal and that it may be demolished? That is the nightmare that is facing nearly 3 lakh Mumbaikars living alongside the Sanjay Gandhi National Park as the ‘Forest Land’ issue returns to haunt them.
What Is The ‘Forest Land’ Issue?
In 2006, the state government changed the land records of various plots adjoining the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, labelling it as Forest Land. People in the Mulund, Nahur, Dahisar, Borivali, Kandivali and Thane regions alongside the park were termed encroachers and were threatened with eviction. After a long legal battle, the residents of Mulund and Nahur (the petitioners) got an order from the Supreme Court in 2014 ordering the government to regularise the land. The only problem – the state government says the SC order only applies to the original petitioners – which leaves residents from the other areas at risk. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the government recently issued fresh notices to the petitioners asking them why their names should not be included in the ‘Forest Land’ issue once again.
What Are The Experts Saying?
They say the state government is clearly trying to evade the Supreme Court’s order; first by denying the benefits of the order to the residents of other areas, and now by issuing fresh notices to the residents. “This is clearly a comprehensive failure on the part of the state which even Supreme Court has pointed out. Now having goofed up, the magnanimous and right thing to do would have been to not to penalize the residents who have done their due diligence.” says property expert Vinay Singh.
Are There Any Other Complications?
Yes. Legal experts say the ruling clearly favours the residents and the government will back off eventually. But that is not the only problem. Several developers including Runwal, Ariisto and Nirmal Lifestyle were building projects in the region. They have now stopped construction on their projects as they are worried about further legal complications and this has left many home buyers out in the cold.
Who Is At Fault Here?
Both the developer and the home buyer have their valid points. Developers cannot be expected to pay the price for policy flip-flops, especially those as confusing as what is going on with the ‘Forest Land’ issue. But the home buyers here have paid up almost the entire amount of their home, and are now saddled with paying rent and exorbitant EMIs. You cannot blame them for being bitter.
What Is The Solution?
Over the years this issue has only got more and more complicated. As a government which aims to be pro-business and pro-consumer, it is important for the state to follow the Supreme Court’s order and regularise these lands immediately. This will not only bring respite to lakhs of residents but also help developers to complete their projects on time.
Reporter : Ashwini Priolker, NDTV
Web Editor : Nikhil Narayan Sivadas, NDTV