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Bombay HC quashes allotment of plot reserved for sports complex to Progressive Homes
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Bombay HC quashes allotment of plot reserved for sports complex to Progressive Homes
Publish on : 2024-07-04 11:45:25
The HC said it was “highly unimaginable that the state government in the affidavit filed by Shri. Aseemkumar Gupta, Principal Secretary (Urban Development Department) as also recorded in the minutes of the meeting (of July 2023). MUMBAI: Sports policies meant for the public cannot be kept unimplemented as ‘paper policies’, said the Bombay high court, underscoring the importance of the nation-building capacity of sports. The HC on Monday upbraided Maharashtra UDD officials for their “lackadaisical approach’’ in “miserably failing” for 20 years to implement its once laudatory step to set up an international standard govt sports complex in Ghansoli on 20 acres of sprawling 61-acre CIDCO plot. The HC said it was “highly unimaginable that the state government in the affidavit filed by Shri. Aseemkumar Gupta, Principal Secretary (Urban Development Department) as also recorded in the minutes of the meeting (of July 2023), could take a stand that the pricing of the (20 acres) land earmarked for government sports complex as demanded by CIDCO would be Rs 2500 crores’’ and “extremely surprising for the principal secretary to not holistically consider the issue of arbitrary allotment of part of the land’’ to a builder. The HC quashed CIDCO’s (City Industrial Development Corporation Ltd) 2017 allotment of part of the Navi Mumbai land to a builder, Progressive Homes, for commercial use and also set aside State’s move to shift its sports complex from Navi Mumbai to a remote rural site in Mangaon taluka, 115 km away. CIDCO's allotment of land to the builder for a residential complex was "not only objectionable but wholly arbitrary and illegal'' said HC. CIDCO should have acted with "public consciousness'' said HC. “The importance sports have gained internationally there is a foremost need to have effective and free sports facilities,’’ said a division bench of Justices Girish Kulkarni and Jitendra Jain, shocked that the State abandoned the land for its prime commercial exploitation by a builder. The judgment paved the way for better sports facilities and policy in the state and was in a public interest litigation (PIL) filed in 2019. The PIL questioned if vacant ground slotted in 2003 under a GR for a ‘Government Sports Complex’ at Navi Mumbai, should be concretized and sacrificed. The Indian Institute of Architects, Navi Mumbai chapter had filed the PIL through Shekhar Bagool and Kaushal Jadia. Of 61 acres, 41 was to be given to NNMC to build the sports complex and 20 was to be developed by the State. The state said of 41 acres meant for Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation to build a sports complex, the CIDCO has handed over 36 acres to the civic body to build such a complex. The PIL however said the remaining 20 acres have been “illegally taken away’’ and the complex on that land is being shifted to village Nanore, by a 2021 state decision. CIDCO is a new town planning authority and the HC and its actions are now “arbitrary. “It is unthinkable’’ said the HC, that the State cannot utilise the plot for its intended public purpose. Slamming the state, the HC said, “It is high time that the State becomes conscious that it is equally important that the children and youth in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai and the large adjoining areas are made available to all kinds of sports facilities.” The HC directed CIDCO to hand over the entire plot in sectors 12 and 12A as earmarked, to the State for the sports complex, for free or at govt rates, saying “ Sports plays a significant role in the development of citizens and the nation.’’ The government and civic authorities fought hard to oppose the PIL. There were 28 affidavits filed in the matter over the last five years. The HC heard advocates Indrajeet Kulkarni for the petitioning architects, advocate Nitin Gangal for CIDCO, Senior advocate Y S Jahagirdar for the builder, B V Samant the AGP for State and advocate Tejesh Dande for NNMC, and delved into the law governing sports, the importance of promoting sports and proper sports program for the State and said the State could develop an additional sports complex at Village Nanore, Mangaon as well. The HC however, on a request from CIDCO and State, stayed its order for four weeks to enable them to challenge the ruling before the Supreme Court. The HC said it was “beyond one’s imagination’’ how a sports complex that would cater to an urban agglomeration could be shifted to a place bereft of infrastructure including rail, road, or air connectivity, to ensure its routine use. The HC while faulting the State’s move to shift its proposed sports complex out of Navi Mumbai said, “It thus clearly appears, that the decision to shift the Government sports complex from Ghansoli to Nanore was taken at a higher level and by stroke of a pen without any thought to the ground realities which otherwise prevailed on record.’’ Justice Kulkarni authoring the 134-page judgment said, “It is unthinkable that the land at Ghansoli, Navi Mumbai, which is reserved for a Government Sports Complex, can remain unutilized for 18 years,’’ adding, “Further, necessary infrastructure for sports persons and other necessary activities in relation thereto are certainly not available, which can be eminently found in these urban cities and It is inconceivable that routine use of the sports facilities even if provided at Village Nanore can be utilized by youth and children, who are residents of these urban areas’’. On the land cost aspect, the HC found it surprising that if CIDCO could allot 36 acres to NNMC on a lease premium of Rs 22 crore, then despite the law setting a restriction under the MRTP Act, how could CIDCO demand an “unconscionable amount of Rs 2500 crore from the State ?’’ “for a mere 20-acre plot. “There has to be a sense of proportion in the pricing of these lands, the nature of which is not different,’’ stressed the HC commenting on the failure by the State to correct the “infirmity in the 2023 meeting’’ said, “It is a sorry state of affairs that at the higher level of the Government, these executive decisions taken by such officials go uncorrected before it is taken up for judicial scrutiny.’’ “We are thus of the clear opinion that the decision on the part of the State Government, purportedly, relinquishing the CIDCO’s land at Ghansoli, to be not utilized for Government Sports Complex, is brazenly illegal and arbitrary, looked at from any angle. In our opinion, there was no need for the State Government to take a hurried decision during the pendency of the petition and considering the case of the petitioner as made out in the petition, as also in the teeth of the CIDCO illegally resorting to make allotment of land from the land reserved for the Government Sports Complex, to private parties (builder) and to take –an unjustifiable--decision to shift the same to Village Nanore, a remote area in the Raigad District.’’ WHAT HC SAID: ·We may reiterate that in the present case, earmarking of the land by CIDCO for the Government Sports Complex in its zoning or in the development plan which CIDCO formulated, implemented, and adhered to was nothing less than a reservation as created in the public interest in favor of the Government in the land in question proposed to be utilized for the Government sports complex. * It is unthinkable that the land at Ghansoli, Navi Mumbai, which is reserved for a Government Sports Complex, can remain unutilized for 18 years. * Authorities are required to be alive to not only the present but the future rights of the citizens for open places, playgrounds, and sports complexes, to be enjoyed by a common man * In our opinion, the Government Sports Complex is of paramount importance to children and youth who form the large mass of population in the urban areas surrounding Navi Mumbai. * It is wholly against the public interest to deprive them of a Government Sports Complex and availability of the best sporting facilities to further their interest in sports, not only under the policies of the Government of India but also of the State Government. * State can have an additional sports complex in Raigad but it cannot be substituted for the one meant for Navi Mumbai. * In inviting bids for residential projects, the CIDCO was certainly changing the status of the land which was earmarked for a Government sports complex to be allotted in the open market * CIDCO has taken a consistent position since the year 2003 till the bids were invited in the year August 2016, that the said land in Sector 12 and Sector 12A, would remain earmarked for the Government sports complex * It is quite surprising for the CIDCO to say that as it did not hear from the State Government to take and utilize the land for the sports complex, it was thought appropriate that the same can be allotted to private parties by dividing the same into plots. * In our opinion, in the first place, non-utilization of the land although ear-marked and completely to the knowledge of the sports department itself has caused unimaginable prejudice to the citizens being deprived of the sports facilities.

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