Bulldozers are not a solution, and the scale of human displacement is beyond comprehension : Bombay High Court.

The Bombay High Court stated in an interim order that merely labelling people as “encroachers” and “deploying bulldozers” is not the solution because the scale of human displacement is beyond comprehension. Instead, the court called for a more considerate approach to deal with the issue of alleged encroachments. The case of Ekta Welfare Society Versus The State of Maharashtra & Ors (WRIT PETITION (L) NO. 3572 OF 2023) was decided by Justices Gautam Patel and Neelam Gokhale. 


Approximately 101 “illegal” structures were demolished on Western Railways property, but the division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Neela Gokhale disapproved of the method and ruled that “no further demolitions are to be carried out until the next date in contravention of the Supreme Court order anywhere on Western Railway lands in Greater Mumbai.”

Ekta Welfare Trust has filed a lawsuit in opposition to the demolition drive. In response, the Supreme Court stated: “In the current case, none of that seems to have been done. The Supreme Court was informed that people impacted will be accommodated or rehabilitated under Prime Minister Awas Yojana Scheme (PMAYS) following scrutiny with regard to their eligibility.” It went on to say, “No rehabilitation programme or eligibility criteria are included in the eviction notifications.


The court questioned whether the government had any rehabilitation policies or programmes in place and stated: “Throughout, we bear in mind that just labelling these people as “encroachers” is not going to solve the issue. This is a major issue in the city, and the level of displacement is unimaginable. Instead of just sending bulldozers to the location, it needs to be handled with greater thought.

The court made it clear that it wasn’t saying that the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) or the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) were to necessarily rehabilitate people evicted during the Western Railways Encroachment Removal Drives.

The bench further stated that the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants Act, 1971) was not even used to issue the notices. The court remarked that neither the survey of the 101 “unauthorised constructions” nor the existence of any eligibility process are revealed in the report.

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