The Bombay high court’s order to demolish the controversial 31-storey Adarsh tower may spell trouble for nearly 200 buildings in Navi Mumbai and several buildings in Mumbai, which were constructed without the mandatory coastal authority nod.
The buildings in Navi Mumbai have been constructed after 2002, without the mandatory state coastal authority nod, and are spread across land worth hundreds of crores, and house thousands of people. There is no official estimate on the number of such buildings in the city, but officials claim the figure could be close to hundred.
The Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) and City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco) – planning authority for the city – through the environment department had been trying to get a post-facto clearance for these buildings since 2013.
However, the Centre, in its communication last year, asked the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA), to take “appropriate and urgent action under law” against the projects completed without the clearance from the coastal regulatory zone authority concerned. The letter did not specify the action to be taken, but ruled out post-facto clearance.
“In the Navi Mumbai case, the civic body has taken the responsibility, as they did not ask the developers to refer the cases to the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA). But not knowing about the law cannot be an excuse to break it. The CRZ notification of 2011 does not have any provision for post-facto clearance. We have asked the Centre to suggest a way out or at least specify the action to be taken,” said a senior bureaucrat.
He added the HC order complicates matters for all Navi Mumbai buildings.
In response to the Centre’s communication, the state government, through the Cidco and NMMC, has now submitted a list of cases on alleged violations in different categories -- where commencement certificates were given after 2002, those before 2002, where construction has come up in CRZ-II and where construction falls in CRZ-I.
In 1998, the union environment ministry proposed setting up of a state coastal authority to scrutinise all building proposals falling under coastal areas.
The MCZMA was set up only by January 2002 as a regulatory authority, but until 2005 and even up to 2007, it was the urban development department that took a call on all CRZ projects. With the department not keen on passing on its powers to an authority that had experts from outside the government, most construction proposals were not even sent to the MCZMA then.
Former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan had tried to intervene for regularization of these buildings – at the time the estimate of such buildings was 500 -- but environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan had ruled it out.