The Housing Ministry has the authority withdraw lands under the Malé City Council if the cabinet decides such lands are required for social, economic and national security purposes, the Civil Court has ruled on Wednesday.
The ruling came in response to a request temporary injunction by the owners of Lemongrass restaurants after police forcibly halted construction of a new restaurant in Malé’s carnival area last week.
The plot had been leased to Lemon Grass restaurants by Malé City Council.
But the Housing Ministry decided to take the plot back and ordered the police to halt ongoing work. Owners of Lemongrass restaurants told local media over 80 percent of construction had been completed.
The Civil Court ruled that when lands leased to people under third party agreements are withdrawn the government would have to pay compensation to the tenant.
On March 27, following a cabinet decision, the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure decided to take over all major lands in Malé City from the city council.
The Housing Ministry and Malé City Council have clashed periodically over the ownership of land in Malé.
Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Dr Mohamed Muiz told newspaper Haveeru at the time that the lands that will be taken from the council including the artificial beach, carnival area, south harbour area, lands near the T-Jetty, Usfasgandu area on the southeast, and Dharubaaruge multipurpose hall.
Muiz said all of the plots were to be developed under a master plan formulated by the ministry, and that there were no problems between the council and the ministry.
“We are taking almost all large plots [in Malé]. We will very soon inform the council in writing that those have been taken [from the council]. We will work with the council. I don’t think this will create any problems,” Muiz said.
‘’The government has the authority to take such lands to utilise them for social and economic purposes.”
Muiz further said that all arrangements of transfer, including the issue of any existing contracts with a private party, will be dealt according to the laws and regulations.
Director of Lemongrass Ahmed Atheef Hussain told Sun Online that the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure had claimed that the restaurant was being constructed in violation of regulations, and requested police to halt the work.