The environment ministry is all set to take action against the Adarsh Housing Complex at Colaba in Mumbai after it found that the argument of the society members that the environment clearance for the project was not required, was found to be untenable.
There is a growing opinion in the ministry that as the Adarsh Housing Complex Society did not obtain an environment clearance under the Coastal Zone Regulation, 1991, so it should be declared illegal. Of the 31 storeys, only six are allowed as per the rules, sources said.
Environment minister Jairam Ramesh is expected to take a final decision on the issue by the week-end.
The environment and CRZ division of the ministry has found the society guilty on two counts. Firstly, that the society failed to seek the CRZ clearance as directed by the Environment ministry in March 2003. Secondly, the floor space index (FSI) of the building violated the CRZ regulations.
Admitting that it had not taken the ministry's approval, the society said it was not required as the CRZ regulations were applicable only for industrial projects requiring water front and offshore facilities.
The ministry has cited the CRZ notification of 1997 which delegated the power to approve residential projects in the coastal areas to state governments. "One has to read the 1997-order in relation to the parent notification of 1991," an official said. Subsequently in 2003, the 1997-order was cancelled after the alleged misuse of the delegated powers.
The ministry and the Maharashtra government are of the view that the claim of Adarsh society that it had received a no-objection certificate in 2003 was "totally wrong". It was a letter allowing change in land use and not for allowing construction, a ministry official said.
The ministry has also found that the complex was initially for 50 people — 19 civilians and 31 defence personnel —which was increased to 71 in 2004 and 92 in 2005.
The ministry is, however, not expected to discuss how the building came up despite no CRZ approval. The immediate demolition of the building was unlikely, as it has already filed a plea in the Bombay High Court.