HC stalls prestigious Tata Housing project

| 22 October 1998 23:18 IST

The first real estate project of the Tata Housing Development Company in Goa has received a severe blow with the high court ordering removal of all the developmental work carried out and restoring the land to its original green cover.

The Goa bench of the Mumbai high court has however stayed the order for six weeks, allowing the company to file a special leave petition before the Supreme Court, on a condition that all construction or development activity would be stopped during the appeal period.

It is the first residential and commercial complex taken up by the THDC, in collaboration with a local firm M/s Key Holdings, on a picturesque Betim hill on the banks of river Mandovi, opposite the capital city of Panaji. All its permissions and licences have also been quashed.

"The project, which will come up after violating conditions of licence and sanad, would be an eyesore in the green belt of the hillock towards river Mandovi," said the division bench comprising Justice R K Batta and Justice A A Desai.

The Court has thus allowed a writ petition filed by the Goa Foundation and Nirmal Vishwa, Goa's two leading environmental groups, though the lengthy order has come almost three months later while the arguments were completed in June.

Serious strictures have also been passed on the state town and country planning department for adopting a "casual approach" in allowing felling of 200 trees on the plot of 11275 sq mts, without bothering into classification of the land. It is classified as the forest land.

The high court has agreed with the petitioners' contention that the company had not obtained permission of the central government for non-forest activities while the same area was altered from orchards to settlement in the Outline Development Plan of Goa. Even the indiscriminate cutting of trees was in violation of the sanad and construction licence.

While over Rs five crore have already been spent on the project, the companies have also collected over Rs four crore by selling 28 units. The project however has remained in controversy right from the beginning as it is placed opposite the Goa Secretariat, across the Mandovi river. The Sawant Committee, appointed later, has confirmed that the private land is indeed a forest land.

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