BMC to get plot reserved for cemeteries after 8-yr legal battle | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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BMC to get plot reserved for cemeteries after 8-yr legal battle

Mar 30, 2024 09:09 AM IST

The four-acre plot at Bandra Reclamation is reserved for a burial ground each for Muslims and Christians, a crematorium for Hindus and a dispensary

Mumbai: After a prolonged legal battle since 2016 involving 25 hearings, the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) has agreed to hand over a four-acre plot reserved for a burial ground each for Muslims and Christians, a crematorium for Hindus and a dispensary at Bandra Reclamation to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

The BMC reserved the plot in the development plan for a cemetery each for Muslims, Hindus and Christians measuring 3,000 square metre and a municipal dispensary measuring 2,300 square metre (Hindustan Times)
The BMC reserved the plot in the development plan for a cemetery each for Muslims, Hindus and Christians measuring 3,000 square metre and a municipal dispensary measuring 2,300 square metre (Hindustan Times)

In an affidavit submitted before the high court on March 27, the corporation clarified that though the tender for redevelopment of a 28-acre plot claimed the four acres would be available for redevelopment in future, the plot would be kept aside for the designated purpose. The court directed MSRDC and BMC to conduct a joint measurement/demarcation of the plot within ten days and hand over the plot reserved for the cemeteries and dispensary to the civic body within four weeks thereafter.

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The court’s directive is expected to bring much relief to the residents of Bandra and Khar, said petitioner Furqan Qureshi, who approached the court in 2016 seeking directions to the BMC to allot land for a burial ground for nearly 1.72 lakh Sunnis living in the area.

“There is no cemetery in Bandra, especially for lower income groups. Consequently, a poor person has to go all the way to Bandra East for a burial,” Qureshi said, adding that he took up the issue in 2016 following a friend’s advice. “The development plan was being prepared at the time. So, I took suggestions and signatures from 1.35 lakh people and submitted the same to the state government. But they didn’t pay any heed to our letters.”

Though the BMC reserved the plot in the development plan for a cemetery each for Muslims, Hindus and Christians measuring 3,000 square metre and a municipal dispensary measuring 2,300 square metre, the Mumbai Metropolitan Reginal Development Authority (MMRDA) initially opposed the move, saying it had plans to build a commercial hub in the area along the lines of the Bandra Kurla Complex. Subsequently, the court directed the maintenance of status quo on the plot.

On March 9, 2020, former BMC chief Praveen Pardeshi wrote to the vice-chairman and managing director of MSRDC, urging him to hand over the plots reserved for the cemeteries and the dispensary in the development plan to the civic body.

Matters came to a head this year January 2024 when Qureshi came across news reports saying MSRDC had issued a tender inviting bids for redevelopment of the site.

“The tender stated that the four acres reserved for cemeteries would be available for redevelopment at a later date. That is when the high court wanted to know from MSRDC whether the reserved plot was also part of the tender,” said Qureshi’s counsel Arshad Shaikh.

In the affidavit submitted in court on Wednesday, the MSRDC said it is ready and willing to hand over the land to the concerned planning authority after joint measurement is done as per the sanctioned development plan.

“They claimed in the affidavit that the 28 acres mentioned in MSRDC tender wasn’t meant for cemeteries. But this was a lie because they themselves claimed that 24 acres of land was free and the balance four acres was under reservation and would be given to the bidder in due course,” said Shaikh.

The court, however, directed the MSRDC and the BMC to conduct a joint measurement/ demarcation of the reserved plot within ten days, based on which the MSRDC must hand over the plot to the BMC within another four weeks after completing all ancillary procedures including execution of agreements and payment of compensation.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled on June13.

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