While Adarsh Society members claim that they have all the required environmental clearances, sources in the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests deny it.
A letter of approval showed by society president Brigadier MM Wanchu is addressed by then Joint Director (Ministry of Environment and Forests) A Senthil Vel to Deputy Secretary (Urban Development) PV Deshmukh, who happens to be a member of the society.
It states that the ministry has “delegated powers to the concerned state government for undertaking development in CRZ 2 and this should be taken up as per CRZ notification 1991 (as amended from time to time) and approved CZMP [Coastal Zone Management Plan] of Mumbai”.
RC Thakur, founding member of the society, said: “The proposal was not forwarded to the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) or the National CZMA; the clearance was given by the ministry directly.” Ministry officials denied this and are likely to issue a clarification.
“The proposal should have been forwarded to the Environment Department and considered by the MCZMA. That never happened. It seems the Urban Development Department gave the clearance on its own. This letter cannot be considered as any sort of approval. It’s grossly misleading,” said a senior environment ministry official on condition of anonymity since he is not authorised to speak to the media.
MCZMA was set up in 1998 to review all projects in CRZ areas. Sources said the state Environment Department had no records of the clearances and has sought them from the Urban Development Department.