The 13 realty firms issued notices by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), demanding proof of environmental clearances for their projects in central Mumbai, comprise the who’s who of Mumbai’s construction industry. MPCB issued the notices after it was served notices by lawyer-activist YP Singh in May and August, alleging that these projects — which got additional development rights after the builders constructed public parking lots — did not have environmental clearances.
Among the construction firms served notices were K Raheja Pvt Ltd, India Bulls Properties Investment Trust, the Lodha Group, Capricorn Realty Ltd, M/S Macrotech Construction Pvt Ltd, Jawala Real Estate Pvt Ltd, Real Gem Build Tech (a subsidiary of DB Realty), Prime Properties Pvt Ltd and Neelkamal Sumer Realtors. On an average, the built-up area of these projects is 1 lakh sq m.
Singh, who filed the notice on behalf of his client Santosh Daundkar, alleged that most of the projects started without the requisite clearances. “These projects need an okay from the Ministry of Environment and Forests, not the state Environment Impact Assessment Committees. Many started work without ministry sanction.”
A state environment official requesting anonymity said that there also seems to be a mismatch between the project size cleared by the civic body and the size cleared by the state environment authorities.
Under the Environment Impact Notification (2006), assessment committees were set up to scrutinise construction projects larger than 20,000 sq m and grant the go-ahead. A general condition said if the project was within 10km of a critically polluted area, it needed ministry clearance. Singh said all these projects are within 10km of Chembur, which is notified as a critically polluted zone by the Central Pollution Control Board.
“We’ve all clearances required and we will show the MPCB the documents once we get its letter,” said Abhishek Lodha, managing director, Lodha Group.