The Bombay High Court on Monday asked the Maharashtra government to consider withdrawing an order passed by the Mumbai Suburban District Collector allotting 102 acres of saltpan land at Kanjurmarg for construction of a Metro car shed.
The Centre and the Shiv Sena-led MVA government in Maharashtra are locked in a tussle over the ownership of the land earmarked by the state for constructing the car depot which was earlier planned at Aarey Colony, a green belt in suburban Goregaon.
The Union government has filed a petition in the high court challenging the October 1, 2020, order passed by the Collector allotting the land for construction of the car shed, and said the land belongs to its (the Centre) salt department.
The Maharashtra government, however, opposed the plea and said the land, allotted to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) for the Metro car shed, is owned by the state.
On Monday, a division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni was of prime facie opinion that the Collector should give a fresh hearing to all parties concerned and settle issues related to land title ownership.
"We cannot allow this order (Collectors order) to remain in force. Prima facie, we are of the view that the matter should go back to the Collector. Consider withdrawing it (the order).
"It is better you (the government) settle all these issues before you proceed further," the court said.
Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni said he would take instructions from the state government over the suggestion following which the court posted the matter for further hearing on December 16.
The Union government, in its plea, has claimed that entire salt pan lands in the area, including the 102 acres allotted to MMRDA, belongs to its salt department.
The former BJP-led government had decided to construct the car shed, part of Mumbai Metro line 3, at Aarey Colony despite opposition from environmentalists and activists who campaigned against cutting of a large number of trees for the project.