Nagpur: Can a lake be a private property? The Maharashtra government’s urban development department has an answer to it. On Wednesday the department clarified that the 16.42 hectare Sonegaon lake cannot be a private property and instead gave its nod to the NMC to start the process to acquire the water body. In October 2016, the NMC had approached the Urban Development Department (UDD) over the status of Sonegaon lake.
In a letter to the Nagpur municipal commissioner, R Chauhan (desk officer, UDD) rejected the NMC’s proposal to grant transferable development right (TDR) by showing the lake to be heritage land, since it was in the heritage list. It clarified that TDR and additional floor space index (FSI) cannot be granted against a water body.
In fact, it is the second time that the UDD has issued a letter as in 2012, similar letter was issued.
On December 2, 2009 the NMC had started the process to acquire the lake and it had obtained applications from the two owners of the lake Dr Sudha Sutariya and Dr Rekha Rani Bhiwapurkar and started the process to acquire the water body. Then, NMC’s town planning department had prepared a proposal on December 14, 2009 to grant TDR for Sonegaon lake. The department was aware that TDR cannot be granted for a lake, on which one cannot build a structure. Therefore, the department prepared the proposal to grant TDR by showing the lake to be heritage land, since it was in the heritage list.
NMC even passed a resolution in the general body submitted by corporator Praful Gudadhe. Earlier, NMC had prepared a controversial proposal to give transferable development right (TDR) in lieu of the lake, which was rejected by the state government.
But the UDD rejected the NMC’s proposal. It has overruled the proposal stating that as per records the villagers of Sonegaon used the lake water for drinking and bathing of their animals without any interference. It also cited that there was no construction so no question arises of grant TDR.
Moreover, the UDD also citied that the Maharashtra government’s development regulations and cited cases eligible for TDR. The rules state that compensation in terms of TD shall be permissible for lands under various reservations for public purposes, new roads, road widening etc which are subjected to acquisition proposed in draft or final development plan, prepared under the provisions of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1956 and unutilized FSI of any structure or precinct which is declared as heritage structure or precinct under the provision of development control regulations due to restrictions imposed in that regulation.
“In the said place as NMC has not made any reservation so there is no question arises of granting Floor Space Index to its owners,” the letter stated. “If ever NMC wants to acquire the lake it will have to amend section 37 of the MRTP Act and then only it can obtain the lake for public utility,” it concluded.
Actually the UDD’s decision is fall out of a writ petition filed by two activists T H Naidu and Prashant Pawar against NMC for granting TDR to acquire the lake, which is a natural water source. They have even cited a Supreme Court judgment which had clearly stated that a lake cannot be a private property.