The redevelopment of the plot where the landmark Sea Rock hotel stood at Bandstand, Bandra, is currently on hold as its developer, Elel Hotels and Investments, has decided not to start construction until the Union environment ministry takes a decision on its proposal to utilise a Floor Space Index of 5.5, instead of the 2.5 for which it already has permission.
The firm’s counsel, Sharan Jagtiyani, made this statement before the Bombay high court on Monday.
Acting on a public interest litigation, the division bench of justice SJ Vazifdar and justice Mridula Bhatkar restrained the company from starting construction for four weeks from the date of the ministry’s decision.
The restraint came after petitioner and Delhi-based lawyer Sonia Raj Sood expressed apprehension that the firm may start construction immediately on getting the ministry’s nod and make her public interest litigation (PIL) in fructuous.
Sood has challenged the granting of 5.5 FSI by the state government for the hotel’s redevelopment, contending that FSI cannot be granted by using two Development Control Regulations (DCRs) for one project.
The PIL alleges that chief ministers Vilasrao Deshmukh and Ashok Chavan played a crucial role in granting the extra FSI – Deshmukh increased the FSI from 1 to 2.5 under DCR of 1967, while Chavan increased it by a further 3 and then to 5.5 under DCR of 1991.
According to the PIL, the 440-room hotel was built four decades ago with an FSI of 1. The landmark hotel, which played host to many Bollywood parties and was a popular hangout for the film fraternity through the 1980s, was damaged in the 1993 serial blasts after which it was shut down. In 2010, the erstwhile five-star hotel was razed, but no new construction has begun at the site.
Sood has also contended that all permissions granted for redevelopment should be cancelled as the hotel falls within the no-development Coastal Regulation Zone-1.
Elel Hotels and Investments said it was ready to meet all contentions raised in the PIL.