The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) contended before the Bombay high court (HC) on Monday that the scam-hit Adarsh Co-operative Housing Society in Cuffe Parade had violated norms pertaining to the Floor Space Index (FSI).
Arguing on MoEF’s behalf,, additional solicitor general Darius Khambata said the housing society could not have utilised the FSI of an adjoining plot reserved for a Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) depot.
“This is something like a builder using the FSI of a plot at Mazgaon for constructing a building on a South Mumbai plot, reasoning that he will not construct anything on the Mazgaon plot,” Khambata said. He was responding to a petition filed by the housing society challenging the January 16 order issued by MoEF directing it to demolish the 31-storey structure. It had built the structure after utilising FSI of the adjoining plot measuring 2669 sq m. Khambata added that the two plots were not amalgamated, as required for utilising combined FSI of two plots.
Advocate Mukul Rohatgi contended on the society’s behalf that it deserved consideration for post-facto sanction, along the lines of Lavasa Corporation’s hill station project in Pune.
He added it could not be blamed if the government misread an MoEF letter issued on March 11, 2003, in response to the Urban Development Department’s proposal for a No Objection Certificate (NOC) for the building.
The then secretary, UDD, PV Deshmukh wrote to the BMC that the MoEF had accorded its sanction for construction of the building based on the MoEF letter. Khambata contended it was a deliberate mistake, unlike in the case of Lavasa.
“Repeatedly, the society was told by Maharashtra government to obtain an NOC from the MoEF, but they brazenly breached this precondition,” Khambata said.