In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court saved the homes of over five lakh families living in Thane, Mulund, Bhandup, Borivali, Kandivali, Virar, Badlapur and Ambarnath in Mumbai Metropolitan Region. It quashed a 2008 Bombay High Court order, which had declared these homes illegal, saying they had been built on forest land bordering the sprawling Sanjay Gandhi National Park. While lambasting the Maharashtra government for bad administration, the court said it was unfair that buyers or residents had to bear the brunt when the state had showed no intention in the past several years to take over the land. A PIL was filed by an NGO, Bombay Environmental Action Group, in 2001 to update the state’s land records as per the Maharashtra Private Forests (MPF) Act, 1975, which also included land designated as residential areas. In 2008, the Bombay High Court had dismissed petitions filed by residents and developers against the forest status and notified the land as per the MPF Act, 1975.
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