The Bombay High Court asked Maharashtra government and the Centre to file replies within two weeks to a petition demanding a comprehensive programme to provide affordable housing in Mumbai.
The public interest litigation, filed by Consumer Online Foundation, today came up before the bench headed by Chief Justice Mohit Shah.
The PIL wants the Centre, the Ministries of Commerce and Industry, Railways and Defence, Bombay Port Trust, Airports Authority of India, Salt Commissioner and Railway Land Development Authority to make available surplus lands in their possession for affordable housing.
Also, in the meantime, the state and the Centre should not be allowed to dispose of salt pan lands for any purpose other than affordable housing, it says.
The petition cites the 2001 census, saying that the total homeless population in Mumbai is 7,78,599 and it needs low-cost houses.
It also quotes the Town and Country Planning Organisation saying that upto 1,20,882 hectares of additional land will be required for low-cost housing.
The organisations which come under the union government, such as the Port Trust, have 20,000 acres of land, a third of the central Mumbai area, in their possession. The Ministry of Defence owns over 1,000 acres of prime land in south Mumbai and small areas in suburbs, the petitioner says.
Similarly, Railways hold tracts of land in the suburbs along the tracks while the Airport Authority owns surplus land in the western suburbs. The Salt Commissioner has 200 hectares of salt pan land, mostly unused, it says.