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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Redevelopment of mill lands: HC stays stop-work notice to Bombay Dyeing

In a relief for textile major Bombay Dyeing, the Bombay High Court on Monday stayed a stop-work notice issued by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to it for redeveloping mill lands. With the stay on the notice, the textile major can now resume construction activities on its two sprawling mill plots in the city.

The relief was granted by a division bench of Justice J N Patel and Justice A P Bhangale following a petition moved by Bombay Dyeing challenging the stop-work notice. The notice was issued following a direction from the monitoring committee that oversees the redevelopment of mill lands. The committee headed by Justice (Retd) B V Chavan had directed the civic body to issue notices dated March 26, 2010, on the grounds that Bombay Dyeing had failed to hand over land to MHADA and BMC for low-cost housing and recreation grounds respectively. It had observed that while there was no progress as far as housing and redevelopment of chawls are concerned, the permitted redevelopment construction by the company is going on and this appears to be incongruous.

According to the Bombay Dyeing’s petition, the projects are coming up on the company’s erstwhile mill plots, Spring Mills in Dadar-Naigaon where a 38-storey residential-cum-commercial tower is coming up on 1.27 lakh sq m of land, and Textile Mills in Worli where retail and IT spaces are in the offing on a 1.02 lakh sq m plot.

In a meeting held on January 12, 2010, a representative of Bombay Dyeing had informed the committee that it would hand over MHADA’s land upon approval of its amended layout. However, a civic corporation officer informed the committee that no such amended plans were put up before the corporation for approval. According to MHADA counsel G W Mattos, in a subsequent meeting held in February, Bombay Dyeing changed tracks and said that the issue of redevelopment of chawls on the mill land is under active consideration of the government and once that decision is taken they would take appropriate steps.

The committee, however, observed that the original layout by Bombay Dyeing was approved in 2005 itself. Five years passed and land is not handed over yet, the committee said.

Bombay Dyeing counsel Navroz Seervai contended that under the DC regulation it would have to surrender land to MHADA and the corporation only upon completion of 30 per cent of the work in the layout.

He pointed out that the DC regulations were proposed to be amended under the direction of the government by the corporation and that notification was issued by the corporation as late as April 3, 2010 and till such time the amendment came into force Bombay Dyeing was not supposed to surrender lands.

Mattos countered this by saying a commitment was made by Bombay Dyeing to the monitoring committee which has powers of a civil court and can direct issuance of stop-work notice.

He also pointed out that the company’s contention that MHADA share of land would be surrendered upon amended layout being approved is in fact incorrect.

The court, however, admitted the petition and stayed the stop-work notice issued by the corporation and adjourned the case for hearing on May 6.

Justice Patel observed that till the amendment comes into force as proposed by the notification of April 3, it would not be incumbent upon Bombay Dyeing to surrender mill land immediately to MHADA and only upon the amendment coming into force it would be necessary for the company to surrender the lands to MHADA as per the proposed amendment.

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