The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), the special planning authority for the Backbay Reclamation region, had been kept out of decision-making process in granting additional vertical development rights to the controversial Adarsh housing society.
This has been revealed in the state’s urban development department’s (UDD) affidavit filed before the two-member Adarsh commission earlier this month.
The 31-storey Colaba tower has been under scanner over alleged connivance of government officials and politicians in granting additional FSI to the society. The society had bureaucrats, politicians and senior defence officials as its members.
The affidavit shows that the UDD had granted exemptions to the society without consulting the planning authority. (see box)
It is now learned that the MMRDA had cautioned the state and sought clarifications over how additional Floor Space Index (FSI) was granted to the society especially by merging the adjoining BEST depot plot. In a letter dated December 22, 2005, the MMRDA’s town planning department had sought clarifications from the UDD on how the state had changed the reservation of the bus depot to residential and how the Adarsh society was allowed to use FSI of this plot to build additional floors for the Colaba tower. It had also flagged that the plot as it was located in the Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) II area and as such permissible FSI was only 1.33.
This letter (a copy of which is with the Hindustan Times) was enclosed along with the UDD affidavit. The MMRDA called for these clarifications from the UDD after the society had approached it to get the commencement certificate to start construction. The letter pointed out that since the plot fell under the CRZ II, it was allowed FSI of 1.33.
“The applicant (society) has shown the height of the building as 93.80m but as per the development control rule, height of only 42m is permissible. Under which norms has the height been cleared?” asks the letter.
The UDD had replied to these queries after six months in June 2006. Meanwhile, UDD had issued a notification deleting the reservation of the bus depot plot, changing its reservation to residential and allotting the plot and its FSI to the society. This was done bypassing the standard procedure by issuing directives through MMRDA.
The MMRDA had also been overruled when the UDD decided to reduce proposed width of the Captain Prakash Pethe Marg (on which Adarsh tower stands). This had facilitated in the society getting a bigger plot.