HC rejects NGO contention on road constructed parallel to Mutha river

The Bombay High Court in a recent judgment held that even if a certain ecological issue is a concern for public in a city, all citizens cannot be termed as "affected persons" due to a particular project. The judgment was in response to a petition objecting to a new road constructed parallel to Mutha river in the city.

The petition filed by NGO Parisar contended that as people at large could be affected on account of the ecological damage the project could have caused, a notice inviting objections and suggestions pertaining to the project should have been issued by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).

Responding to the argument, Justice Mridula Bhatkar said in her order, "Assuming that every citizen in the city has an interest in the river and the river bank being a public place...they cannot be treated as affected persons to whom giving notice is a mandate. The word affected contemplates a special, personal or specific loss. Hence, it is not necessary for the planning authority to give a notice or even give a public notice under Section 37 (of the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act)."

Justice Bhatkar noted that no land was acquired from any person for the construction of the road and therefore, there was no "affected person" within the meaning of the section.

The NGO had contended that vehicular traffic and air pollution from the adjoining road would damage the river and the marine life. The court noted that affected persons under the Act would mean persons who are affected due to acquisition of land, change in reservation and construction or widening of roads. The order also notes that earlier, the civic body was to construct the road on the other side but changed its plan as land would have to be acquired in that case.

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