Is air quality in Mahul improving, asks HC

Basic right: Children residing in Mahul protest the government's failure to give them alternative accommodation.

Basic right: Children residing in Mahul protest the government's failure to give them alternative accommodation.   | Photo Credit: Emmanual Yogini

Court seeks data from Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, wants report on September 19

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday enquired about the air quality at Mahul in Chembur, where nearly 5,000 families have been relocated to live in Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) colonies surrounded by oil refineries, chemical factories, fertiliser plants, petroleum companies and industrial units.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dangre was hearing a plea filed by the government against an order passed by another Division Bench on April 3, directing it to deposit ₹15,000 per month as rent and an additional ₹45,000 as refundable deposit in the bank accounts of thousands of residents and other project affected people. “Let us face a harsh reality. To save lakhs of people, you [government and civic body] cannot let these thousands to die. This is not correct. The government and corporation cannot say these persons will have to stay in a place that even the National Green Tribunal has said is not fit to stay,” Chief Justice Nandrajog said.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) counsel informed the court that they have moved the Supreme Court against this order, seeking clarity on it. The BMC is also challenging the order passed by the National Green Tribunal order stating that it observed that the air quality in the area is not fit for human habitation. The court was also hearing the petitioners on urging the State and the BMC to relocate families because of various health problems that they are facing. The Bench asked if the air quality in the area is improving and has sought compiled data from groups like the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board in a tabular form and demanded submission of reports on September 19.

The Bench again said people cannot be forced to live in Mahul. In the last hearing, the court referred to the story of Noah’s Ark and said, “When the floods came, Noah didn’t leave even a single animal behind, but took them all on his boat. Similarly, you must take care of the interest of all your citizens, whether poor or rich,” the court had said.

Around 15,000 people have been made to stay in the MHADA complex. of 72 buildings, and the area is surrounded by chemical refineries. There are reports from the NGT and Indian Institute of Technology Bombay declaring the area “unfit for human habitats”.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 1:25:59 PM |

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