The Bombay High Court today extended by three weeks its earlier order, restraining the municipal council in Badlapur town of nearby Thane district from cutting trees to pave way for construction of a shopping mall on forest land.
The court was hearing a PIL, which claimed that Kulgaon- Badlapur Municipal Council was planning to construct a mall, without permission of the authorities.
Justice DD Sinha and Justice Vijay Kapse-Tahilramani granted three weeks time to the municipal council to file documents relating to the ownership of land.
Counsel for the municipal council, Ashutosh Kumbhkoni said the allegations were baseless and the land, on which, the mall was to come up, was not a forest land. He said an affidavit would be filed along with documents to substantiate his point.
The PIL said the land on which the mall was planned to be built had trees of 200 valuable species and the council was cutting down some of them to accommodate the shopping centre.
The PIL alleged the land belonged to Forest Department since 1905, when a bungalow was built there. The land is also in the possession of Forest Department since then and this is reflected in entries in land records, it said.
However, in 1995, Thane Collector had given possession of the land to Kulgaon- Badlapur Municipal Council.
Eight years later, the forest department sought return of the land. The civic body called a general body meeting in 2004 and resolved to construct the mall on the impugned land.
In 2006, the State Forest Department wrote to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest, asking a query whether it was a forest land. However, the Ministry gave an ambiguous reply not clarifying the position, the PIL alleged.
The petitioner also tried to lodge an FIR with police last year, but they refused to register the complaint. Various protests, including fast, were held, but the council did not budge from its position, the PIL claimed.
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Updated Date: Jan 17, 2012 18:47:17 IST