Developers and promoters of around 500 buildings in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai, constructed without coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) approvals, such as the controversial Adarsh society, are likely to face criminal action.
Majority of the buildings on Palm Beach Road in Navi Mumbai, including highprofile societies that house bureaucrats and police officials, don’t have CRZ clearance.
The state has sought legal opinion on how to proceed against such buildings after the Union environment ministry’s refusal to regularise them.
“We have no choice but to take action. But we are examining relevant sections of the Environment Protection Act before taking action,” said Sachin Ahir, minister of state for environment.
A criminal complaint could be filed against developers or promoters of these buildings under section 15 of the Act for flouting coastal norms, Ahir said.
Those found guilty can face up to five years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to Rs1 lakh.
The other option with the state is to send notice to buildings under section 5 of the Act, which empowers authorities to cut their power and water connections.
The state environment department is likely to issue this notice, give buildings a hearing and forward the cases to the Centre for further action.
In its June 22 issue, Hindustan Times had reported that union environment minister Jayanti Natarajan had refused to regularise these buildings despite chief minister Prithviraj Chavan proposing a hefty fine for their regularisation.
In 2011, the Centre set a precedent by ordering the demolition of the 31-storey Adarsh society in Cuffe Parade for violation of coastal norms.
Since then, the state government has come across nearly 500 buildings in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai, which despite falling in the CRZ, don’t have the mandatory clearances from the state coastal body, Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA).
The state government’s selective interpretation of coastal laws is partially to blame for this mess.
Even after 2002, when the MCZMA nod became mandatory, the state’s urban development department, unwilling to let go of its powers, did not forward construction proposals to the state coastal body.
In many of these cases, developers claim they had no idea that MCZMA nod was mandatory as local authorities did not inform them about the law.