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The Maharashtra Government has been asked by the Bombay High Court to file reply to a PIL alleging encroachments made by Minister Ganesh Naik and a private trust run by his nephews on the state-owned land valued at over Rs 200 crore in the satellite city of Navi Mumbai.

Hearing the petition today, Justices Ashok Bhangale and AM Khanwilkar asked the government and other respondents to file affidavits in reply by April 5.

The bench posted the matter for hearing on April 16.

Besides the state government, other respondents are Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra (CIDCO), Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation, Minister of Excise and Non-Conventional Energy Ganesh Naik, Bavkhaleshwar Mandir Trust and its trustee Santosh Tandel.

Producing a letter written by MIDC to one Haribhau Mhatre, the PIL alleged that the Minister Ganesh Naik had encroached upon and occupied MIDC property of about 1,45,080 square metres consisting of 1,32,480 square metres of open space and 12,600 square metres area of Industrial plots at Trans-Thane creek area at Pawne in Navi Mumbai.
It was alleged that Naik, Guardian Minister of Thane district, had also encroached upon CIDCO land of 5,600 square metres by building a bungalow on it known as “Glass House”.

The PIL, filed by social worker Sandeep Thakur, tabled internal memos of MIDC which alleged that encroachments have been made by the Minister and his supporters were preventing the MIDC personnel from removing illegal structures. The PIL alleged that the petitioner had received a letter from MIDC, which had informed that the land was encroached upon by Bavkhaleshwar Mandir Trust, but the actual area of illegal structures is only 1119.84 square metres.

The rest of the space has been beautified by planting coconut trees, building roads and lawns and boundary walls and a lake by the trust.

The PIL also produced documents to show that the trust had paid Rs 17 lakh and Rs 1.26 lakh on October 11 and October 15 to Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation towards property tax for 2012-13. It urged for investigation to find out who was funding this alleged encroachment.

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