The Bombay High Court has refused to quash schemes for redevelopment of the Bombay Development Directorate Chawls.

The bench of Acting Chief Justice S.V. Gangapurwala and Justice S.G. Chapalgaonkar noted that the environmental clearance given by the Competent Authorities, does not demonstrate that the construction is against any rules and regulations in force.

The Court also observed “This Court is not expert on planning and designing of the houses. The said job is of the experts. This Court can only consider as to whether the constructions, to be carried out, are in consonance with the Development Control Regulations and Rules. If it is pointed out that construction is not in consonance with the rules and regulations, then only this Court would step in.”

The petitioners had submitted that under the proposed redevelopment, the existing tenants will be rehoused in rehabilitation buildings, which are grouped closely together with limited access to light and air.

It was added that by designating most of these rehab buildings as wings, even the mandatory minimum distance between two buildings is not being maintained.

Senior Advocate Aspi Chinoy appeared for petitioners whereas Additional Government Pleader Abhay L. Patki appeared for State and Senior Advocate Ashutosh Kumbhakoni appeared for Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority.

The Court observed that “The reliance upon the reports about the occurrence of TB in respect of absence of light, air and density, may be in case of locality wherein the survey is carried out, however on the basis of the same it would not be possible to conclude that in the present case the construction activity undertaken is flawed.”

The Court noted that the Chawls were constructed in the year 1920­25 and have outlived their life.

The Court further noted that the petitioners did not demonstrate as to how the redevelopment project of the rehabilitation buildings is not in tune with the provisions of the Development Control Regulations and Rules provisions.

“The EIA and GRIHA reports referred by the Respondents demonstrate that light and ventilation within the rehabilitation buildings was satisfactory and complying the norms. The reports are prepared by the experts.”, the Court remarked.

The Court observed that there is nothing on record to even remotely suggest that the plans sanctioned and the redevelopment being carried out is against the provisions of DCPR 2034 or against the provisions contained in Regulations of DCR 33 (9) (B) r/w Appendix III B.

The Court directed the respondents to carry out the construction strictly in accordance with the provisions of DCPR 2034 and the rules and regulations operating and holding the field.

Accordingly, the PIL was disposed of.

Cause Title- Shirish B. Patel & Anr. v. State of Maharashtra & Ors.

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