MUMBAI: The state government does not want to let go of private forest land that has not yet been developed and hence has not allowed blanket deletion of the name of the revenue and forest department from all land titles in the private forest matter.
Senior officials in the chief minister's office said a blanket approval for reversal would open a pandora's box and the government would stand to lose all vacant private forest land across the state.
But the government will ensure land titles are reversed wherever there has been even a bit of development, BJP MP from North-East Mumbai, Kirit Somaiya said.
Nearly a year after the Supreme Court order directing it to delete the name of the revenue and forest department from the land records, the government in December allowed the decision to be implemented in case of the 18 petitioners. These petitioners, including several developers and housing societies association from Mulund and Nahur, had approached the SC for the deletion.
Prakash Padikkal, convener, Hillside Residents' Welfare Association, said the process of deletion of the revenue and forest department's name and entry of the housing societies' names in land records had been completed in Mulund and Nahur.
Mantralaya officials said they have received several applications from housing societies and under-construction projects on private forest land, who were not part of the petition, for reversal of title to the respective land-owners. "We compiling these applications and forwarding them to the Centre for its clearance," said officials.
"All these housing societies have paid the net present value for the land as penalty for loss of forest on account of the construction as directed by the Central Empowered Committee. But there is no specific order from the Supreme Court for the deletion of the designation private forest land and so the court order cannot be applied here," said sources.
"We will allow the land titles to be reversed in cases where there has been even one-third construction but the clearance has to come from Delhi and it will take time. However, we are clear we will not allow it in case of vacant land,'' said a senior official in the chief minister's office.
Padikkal said the Central Empowered Committee had allowed the use of land for purposes other than forest only for a certain period of time after paying the net present value. "The land title will continue to remain in the name of the revenue and forest department even after the payment of the net present value," he said.
The Democratic Front government had filed a review petition but it was dropped by the SC registrar as the state failed to satisfy queries raised by the registrar. With assembly elections in the offing at the time, the government preferred not to pursue the matter.