Three years after the state coastal body recommended the proposal for a five-star hotel in Central Mumbai to the Union Environment ministry, knowing well that it was not permissible in law, the committee has woken up to the ‘irregularity’.
The Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) has now written to the Union Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) indirectly asking it to revoke its clearance to the project, as it had violated local land use regulation. The MCZMA action comes after chief minister Prithviraj Chavan decided to axe the mega project after he found out that laws were bent to grant clearances to this project.
The 77-storey five-star hotel by Chaitra Realty of the Ackruti Group was to come on 5.3 acres of prime realty falling under CRZ II, at Hindustan Spinning and Weaving Mills in central Mumbai. The plot was reserved for industrial and partially recreational purposes.
The state government had allowed change in land use on this plot by amending Development Control Rules and inserting that ‘hotel’ would be permissible activity in a plot reserved for industry. The state also granted the hotel Floor Space Index of nearly 7, as five-star hotels were allowed high FSI in coastal areas under the then prevalent norms.
The Central expert appraisal committee had cleared the project in 2010 on the condition that “the development shall confirm to the local regulation of land use”. In 2012, the Union environment ministry accorded environment and coastal clearance subject to “strict compliance of this condition”.
The MCZMA, knowing well that hotel could not be built on the land, had found a way around the law in June 2009 by arguing that Mumbai needed stock of five-star hotel rooms and that if the land remained vacant, it would be encroached on by slums.
“The existing land use in the case is in special industrial zone and partly recreational ground wherein construction of hotel was not allowed as per Development Control Rules 1967, which is applicable in Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) II areas of Mumbai,” noted minutes of the MCZMA meeting released on Monday.
HT, in a news report last year, had said that Chavan had reviewed the decision taken in the tenure of his predecessor and cancelled it.