In a major interim relief for residents of buildings in the Shivaji Park area that obtained commencement certificates from the BMC for the redevelopment of their properties before July 31, 2012, the Bombay high court has allowed the redevelopment of these properties despite the structures coming within the proposed heritage precinct.
A division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice MS Sanklecha delivered this interim order on Thursday, while hearing two separate petitions by Arun Chitale, a resident, and the Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry (MCHI), challenging the circulars issued by the BMC on July 31, 2012, and August 13, 2013, on the proposal to declare the Shivaji Park area as a heritage precinct.
The judges said that those buildings which have received commencement certificates prior to July 31, 2012, could go ahead with redevelopment work. Those buildings where redevelopment plans have been sanctioned and they have been legally demolished between July 31, 2013, and August 13, 2013, should approach the BMC for further permissions.
On July 31, 2012, the chief engineer of the BMC’s development plan department had issued a notice stating that the Shivaji Park area had been added to the list of proposed heritage precincts.
Then on August 13, 2013, the civic chief said in a circular to all civic officials concerned that they should keep the July 31, 2012 notice in mind when clearing redevelopment projects in the Shivaji Park area. He also said it was preferable to take an NoC from the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) before granting approvals.
Counsel for the BMC, SU Kamdar, told the court that the state urban development department secretary had on July 17, 2013, called for suggestions and objections on the proposal to declare the Shivaji Park area as a heritage precinct. The department had received about 2,000 objections so far, he said, and after considering the responses it would make a report to the state.
The chief justice said this process should be expedited.
The counsel for MHCC, Shiraz Rustomjee, said the committee’s permission would be required before granting approval for redevelopment. This was opposed by both Virag Tulzapurkar, counsel for Chitale, and Milind Sathe, counsel for MCHI, who said that the BMC was the appropriate authority to approve redevelopment proposals.
The judges asked the BMC to take the approval of the heritage conservation committee if that was required under the law. They asked the state to file a reply on the matter by November 25, 2013.
The heritage issue
The municipal corporation had, in a notice on July 31, 2012, said the Shivaji Park area had been added to the list of proposed heritage precincts. Subsequently, the municipal commissioner directed officials concerned to keep the notice in mind when clearing redevelopment projects in the Shivaji Park area.