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MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Tuesday paved the way for the redevelopment of a slump pocket spread over 5,000 sq m in Vile Parle East, by restoring the developer —-Sateri Builders and Developers LLP — chosen by the slum dwellers.

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A single-judge bench of justice Milind Jadhav set aside the July 2022 order of the Apex Grievance Redressal Committee (AGRC) which had struck down the decision of the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) to accept Sateri Builders and Developers as the developer for the project.

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The project comprised two land pockets: 4442.95 sq m of land belonging to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and an area of a DP (Development Plan) road – Dayaldas Road measuring 523.55 sq m, which too was encroached upon by the slums.

Slum dwellers on both properties decided to undertake the redevelopment under the Maharashtra Slum Areas (Improvement, Clearance and Redevelopment) Act, 1971, and formed two societies — Shree Gurukrupa (SRA) CHS for the occupants on the 4442.95 sq m plot and Patilwadi Residents Sangh and Ismail Chawl CHS of the slum dwellers residing on DP Road area.

In 2018, the members of these proposed societies passed a Resolution and appointed M/s. Sigma Construction Pvt Ltd as their developer, but the firm backed off in August 2020 due to financial constraints.

In November 2020, members of Shree Gurukrupa chose Sateri Builders as their developer for the slum rehabilitation project, and the SRA accepted the proposal to appoint a new developer. Subsequently, the scheme was amended, and the DP road area was also included in the scheme and a letter of Intent was issued to the new developer on May 4, 2022.

However, five members from the DP road objected to the appointing of Saetri Builders and Developers and challenged the decision of SRA to accept it before the AGRC, as they sought to appoint M/s. Pagrani Universal Infrastructure Pvt Ltd. as the developer for the project. Acting on the complaint, AGRC on July 28, 2022, struck down the SRA order, accepting the developer, prompting the developer and Shree Gurukrupa to approach the high court.

Justice Jadhav, however, found that the five dissenting members had no locus whatsoever and “their claim was nothing but extortionist and cannot be countenanced.” The judge said the slum dwellers were “put up as proxy by an interested developer, namely M/s. Pagrani Universal Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd.”

The judge struck down the AGRC order, saying the attempt by the five slum dwellers was “merely to scuttle the redevelopment project and SR scheme for their own ulterior motives and benefit. These contesting Respondents have no locus whatsoever to even object to the development. Their actions are motivated and not in the interest of the slum dwellers.”

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