Adarsh housing society will challenge the demolition order issued by the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) on Sunday in the Bombay high court.
The society’s management blamed the state government for misinterpreting certain documents that allowed the society to build the tower in a coastal regulation zone. Satish Maneshinde, counsel for Adarsh, said that he would move the high court once he gets the copy of the MoEF’s order. He alleged that the contents of the order were leaked to the media earlier this week. “I think it is totally mala fide and we will challenge it,” he said.
Kanhaiyalal Gidwani, senior Congress leader and one of the original promoters of the society, told the Hindustan Times on Sunday that the management was confident of getting justice. “We are sure the high court will grant us relief because the investigating agencies will have to prove the allegations that they have levelled against us,” he said.
The society’s chairman, MM Wanchu, said the state government had misinterpreted an MoEF letter in 2003 that said approval under CRZ was required. The state had termed the letter as a “no-objection letter” for building the tower. “Why are we being blamed when the state government misinterpreted an MoEF letter?” he asked.
The society had told the MoEF that it did not violate any environment norms because it did not require any environmental clearance according to the rules under which the ministry had served it a show-cause notice.
It had said it did not violate the permissible floor space index (FSI) while constructing the 31-storey tower in Colaba and hence the MoEF notice was misplaced. The MoEF, however, dismissed the society’s reply and asked the state government to demolish the entire tower in three months.
Former police officer, YP Singh, who helped unearth the scam, said the demolition will not happen soon. “Adarsh society will definitely appeal in the high court. The authorities will not be able to pull the structure down until the matter is decided in court.”
Retired vice-admiral, Madanjit Singh, who owns a flat in the tower, said he would not give up his property and blamed the promoters for the scam. “None of us knew that the society did not have the necessary environmental clearances,” he said.
Will act on order, says minister
State environment minister Sanjay Deotale told HT that the state would have to follow the Centre’s order. “It’s the state that implements their [the Centre’s] directive,” he said.
Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, who took over the reins from Ashok Chavan who quit following the Adarsh scam, avoided the media on Sunday. His office said he did not want to comment on the issue yet.
Deotale said Adarsh society was given enough opportunities to clarify its stand. “Based on the society’s version, the Union environment ministry has found irregularities and hence it has issued demolition orders.” The minister said the government would study the directive before deciding what to do next.