After the Centre called for action against 200 buildings in Navi Mumbai constructed without coastal-zone clearance, sources told HT that several buildings in Mumbai, like the controversial 31-storey Adarsh tower, fall in the same category and could therefore also face action.
While there is no clear estimate on how many such buildings are there in the city, senior government officials said more than a hundred buildings will now be under the scanner.
In 2012, the state government had placed on record in an affidavit before the Adarsh commission, which stated that at least three other buildings were granted clearance without referral to the state coastal authority as mandated by law in 2002.
The affidavit by then urban development department (UDD) secretary Manukumar Srivastav stated that the department had, between 2002 and 2003, given no-objection certificates to three structures — Sardar Vallabhai Patel stadium in Worli, Ghelabhai mansion in Girgaum, and CR2 building at Nariman Point — without consulting the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA). The CR2 building houses a mall and government offices.
HT reported on Thursday that the Centre had ruled out any post facto clearance for the 200 Navi Mumbai buildings and had asked the MCZMA to take “appropriate and urgent action under law”.
MCZMA, in the minutes of its December meeting, finalised on Thursday, decided to refer the matter back to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to find out the procedure for taking action. Under existing law, this would mean demolishing the buildings.
“Many such buildings were cleared by UDD even though MCZMA had been constituted to clear all such proposals in 2002. In 2003, the centre amended the notification stating that proposals less than Rs 5 crore could be cleared by the concerned state authorities without scrutiny by the coastal authority. The UDD continued to grant NoCs (no-objection certificates) to projects that clearly cost more than Rs 5 crore,” said a senior bureaucrat, who did not wish to be named.
He added that unless centre amended the CRZ notification of 2011 or allowed the buildings to be cleared on payment of a penalty, it would be impossible for the state to handle the mess.
In 2013, then chief minister Prithviraj Chavan had sought the intervention of then union environment minister Jayanti Natrajan on the issue, seeking post facto clearance for all such buildings. Chavan had said that at least those buildings where there were no floor space index (FSI) violations should be granted clearance. The government at the time had estimated that there were nearly 500 such buildings in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai put together. Natrajan had, however, refused to grant this reprieve.
The controversial Adarsh society, which has been fighting a prolonged court battle, has maintained that it had a valid environment clearance from the state government as at the time all projects were appraised by the UDD. The onus is now on the Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government to sort out the mess.