The Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society has been given an extension – till January 4, 2011 –to appear for the hearing at the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), failing which the ministry will take a final decision on the scam hit high-rise.
On November 12, the MoEF had shot off a show-cause notice to the controversial 31-storey tower at Colaba for violating coastal regulation zone (CRZ) norms and not abiding by the environment protection act (EPA). The tower, promoted as a project for war veterans and their families, ended up being owned by top navy and army commanders, bureaucrats and politicians.
‘This will be the final opportunity given to you for a hearing and no further request shall be entertained for a postponement. The ministry will then issue final orders based on facts and documents available on record,” said Bharat Bhushan, director, MoEF, in a letter on Tuesday to Satish Maneshinde, advocate representing Adarsh.
The MoEF had already granted three extensions to Adarsh and had also allowed to inspect documents available with the ministry on December 20, and had asked it to appear for a hearing on December 28.
However, the society had asked the MoEF to keep the hearing date anytime after January 3, 2011 considering unpredictable weather conditions and inordinate flight delays. The decision to be taken, point out sources in MoEF, may go against the society as it is based on facts provided by the state environment and urban development department (UDD) which shows that the tower is technically ‘illegal’.
The UDD had pointed out that in 2005, it had allowed Adarsh to use FSI of an adjoining 2,669-square-metre plot reserved for a BEST bus depot by de-reserving the plot citing ‘underutilisation’ as a reason.
However, Adarsh could have used an FSI of 1.33 to build staircases, elevators and a lobby but used it to increase the structure vertically beyond 30 metres, which violates CRZ norms, the report pointed out.
The state environment department said that an amendment in 2002 made it mandatory for housing societies in CRZ II areas, and those costing above Rs. 5 crore to be referred to the Centre for environmental clearance.