Residents of Salisbury Park finally have a reason to rejoice after their long struggle for getting back the ‘open plot’ or garden spot that was handed over to a builder earlier.
After the Bombay High Court order, the Pune Municipal Corporation(PMC) paid up Rs 18.5 crore to the builder and took back the land from him on Saturday. And now, it will construct a garden on the land, keeping in view the demands of residents.
“It was a long wait spanning over many years and some consistent follow-up by people like Dr V T Taneja and his team that led to the plot being returned to the community,’’ said Faizal Poonalwala, chairman of the Salisbury Citizens’ Forum. The members conducted a celebration on Saturday after the land was finally given back to the civic body for development of a garden.
In 2004, the PMC had issued a notification to de-reserve the land and handed it over to the builder. The civic body had earlier reserved the land in 1966 for development. The matter had even reached the Supreme Court where the residents had won the case.
However, the landowner had claimed Rs 71 crore and finally the recent HC order states that the PMC has to deposit a compensation of Rs 18.5 crore as calculated by the civic body and the district collector, and then take charge of the land. The PMC had earlier paid Rs 6.5 crore and they recently deposited Rs 12 crore to complete the due process, Poonawalla said.
Civic officials maintained that the owner has challenged the amount whereas the HC had instructed the civic body to pay the amount and take charge of the land.
The residents’ forum said that it was due to the pursuits of local corporator Shrinath Bhimale who had launched a fight against de-reservation that the community could sustain the open space. Poonawalla added that some 300 residents were determined to have the plot developed as a garden as it was currently used to dump garbage.