Vasant Sagar on Marine Drive’s A Road will no longer be the first residential building in the heritage precinct to raise its height above the maximum stipulated 28 metres (m).
The Bombay high court on Monday restricted developer Vasant Sagar Properties Pvt Ltd from carrying out any construction beyond five floors while redeveloping the building. The court found that the proposed 13-storey structure would violate height limit prescribed for buildings in the proposed Marine Drive heritage precinct.
“Prima facie the construction is in violation of the April 25, 1995, notification,” a division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice Niteen Jamdar said.
The court has granted the developer liberty to complete internal construction up to five floors.
Vasant Sagar Properties, however, maintained that they had not violated any rules or regulations and that they had obtained all permission necessary for construction of the 13-storey structure, including basement, stilt, three floors for parking space and upper residential premises.
The court was hearing a petition filed by the Federation of Churchgate Residents challenging the sanction for construction of the high-rise.
Aspi Chinoy, who represented the federation, argued that the developer had started construction without obtaining a no objection certificate (NOC) from the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee.
The senior advocate said the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) had imposed precondition of obtaining the NOC from the heritage committee before commencing construction.
Chinoy also pointed out that according to a notification issued by the Urban Development Department on April 25, 1995, the height of buildings in A ward, which covers Marine Drive, could not exceed 28m.
Additional solicitor general Kevic Setalwad, who represented the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), submitted that the developer had flouted every possible condition imposed, and pointed out that the MCZMA had accorded sanction for the project on the ground that the cost of the project was limited to Rs. 4.1 crore and did not exceed Rs. 5-crore limit.
But now the cost of the project has gone up to Rs39 crore for which permission from MoEF is required, and no such permission from the central ministry has been taken, he said.
However, Milind Sathe, counsel for Vasant Sagar Properties, maintained that the heritage precinct was yet to be notified and since it was merely a proposed precinct, no such restriction was applicable.
He further pointed out a communication addressed to them by the then commissioner of BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) that no NOC from the heritage committee was required for carrying out the construction.
Sathe contented that as the developer had obtained all necessary permissions, there was no reason for the court to intervene at this stage and bring the construction to halt. The contention, however, failed to convince the the judges.