The state environment panel has recommended action against the developer of the sole cluster redevelopment project to have taken off in the city at Lalbaug in central Mumbai for making changes to the project without the mandatory environment clearance.
The developer has, however, denied any wrongdoing.
The project by Nish Developers, named One Avighna Park and spread across seven acres of prime realty at New Islam Mill compound, was granted clearance by the ministry of environment and forests in 2008, but had to be scaled down, with changes in its layout and size, because of difficulty in getting consent from all the tenants.
The state expert appraisal committee (SEAC), which considered the project last week for a revised clearance, observed that the developer had modified the project, including change in land use from commercial to residential, without getting an EC, and that this was in violation of the Environment Protection Act (EPA), 1986.
Kailash Agarwal, promoter of Nish Developers, said, “We had got environmental clearance for a larger project area of around 34,000 sq meters, which was reduced. We moved for environment clearance for the revised project. We have not completed the project yet, so where is the violation?”
The SEAC, an advisory body, has recommended “credible action” against the project under the EPA to the state environment impact assessment authority (SEIAA), the final authority in such matters.
If the SEIAA upholds the violation, the project developer can face legal action mandatory under Section 15 of the EPA, which lays down penalty of up to Rs 1 lakh or imprisonment up to 5 years, or both.
The board of directors of the company will also have to submit a formal resolution assuring the government that such violations will not be repeated.
If this resolution is not submitted within 60 days, the project can get de-listed.
Agarwal said, "We have taken our case to the SEIAA, and believe that we will get the clearance as we have done no wrong."