MUMBAI: Rendering uncertain the fate of lakhs of people residing in housing societies and many others who had invested huge sums to buy apartments, the Bombay High Court on Monday upheld the Maharashtra government’s decision to acquire over 100 acres of private land here. Some of these lands fall in prime suburban areas such as Vikhroli, Kandivali, Mulund, and in many instances multi-storeyed residential buildings had been constructed where people are staying or which are yet to be allotted to owners.

The Maharashtra government had issued show cause many years ago under the Indian Forests Act of 1927 to the original owners of these lands, seeking a reply as to why the lands should not be treated as private forests and be acquired for their conservation.

However, the government did not take any step to acquire them, after issuing the notice, until 2006.

Under the Maharashtra Private Forests (Acquisition) Act, such land classified as private forest could be acquired by the Forest Department to conserve forests.

A bunch of 19 petitions, filed by some construction groups, had challenged the “mutation entries” changing the status of the lands in revenue records, marking them as “private forest.”

Despite their pleading that some of lands were already developed, a Division Bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice S.C. Dharmadhikari dismissed the petitions. — PTI

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