Mumbai: In a major setback for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the Bombay High Court has ruled that the civic body’s ambitious project of the construction of a bicycle and jogging track at Powai Lake and the catchment area is “illegal” and has directed its removal.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and V G Bisht, while allowing two public interest litigations (PILs) which challenged the construction of the cycle and jogging tracks, observed: “… We declare that the construction of cycle track and the jogging track inside the boundaries of Powai Lake and the catchment area is in violation of the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, and this is illegal.”
Apart from restraining the corporation from carrying out any construction on the proposed cycle track at Powai Lake and the catchment area, the HC has directed it to remove the existing construction and restore the reclaimed land to its original site.
“The corporation is directed to remove all the construction which has been carried out by reclaiming land and it is further directed to restore all the reclaimed land to its original site,” said HC.
The HC also refused to grant a stay on its order to allow the BMC to challenge the same before the Supreme Court.
When the advocate for the corporation, Joel Carlos, sought a stay on the order, CJ Datta said: ‘‘If the court stays its own order then it shows that the court is not sure of its order. We don’t pass orders like that. We are sure it is illegal and so it has been stopped.”
The HC was hearing two different PILs filed by two PhD researchers from IIT-Bombay, Omkar Supekar and Abhishek Tripathi, and the second one by an NGO, Vanashakti. The pleas had sought a stay on the construction of the cycle and jogging track and sought directions to restore the site to its original state with immediate effect.
Activist Zoru Bhathena had filed an intervention application, wherein he had contended that reclamation of the lake had been done, which was impermissible.
The pleas also contended that the construction was also dangerous to the ecosystem, as part of the lake was being reclaimed. Also, the Heritage Conservation Committee had clearly stated no construction or reclamation of any kind …….