The controversial Adarsh society in Cuffe Parade has demanded that the 31-storey building be considered for a post-facto [with retrospective effect] sanction from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).
Arguing in the Bombay high court on the petition filed by the society challenging the January 16 MoEF demolition order on the building, lawyer Mukul Rohatgi said, “We cannot be blamed if the state government misread MoEF’s reply to the state urban development department’s letter seeking a no-objection certificate for Adarsh and granted us all permissions and sanctions treating it as an NOC from MoEF.”
In such a situation we cannot be treated as the biggest culprits in Mumbai, Rohatgi said. He said the MoEF had found two flaws in the Adarsh case – that the society did not route the proposal through the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) and utilised more FSI than permitted.
Regarding questions about utilisation of FSI, Rohatgi said that in accordance with an apex court verdict, being in CRZ-II the society was entitled to FSI of 3.5 and not 1.33 as cited by MoEF. According to him, even if the FSI of the adjacent BEST plot was deducted, there could not be any FSI violation.
While speaking about the second flaw, Rohatgi said the MCZMA could still consider the society’s proposal for a post-facto sanction. “Bring MCZMA into the loop now, ask them to examine our proposal for post-facto sanction,” Rohatgi said.
In October 2002, UDD had addressed a letter to MoEF seeking an NOC for Adarsh stating development was permissible under CRZ-II. MoEF had replied to it a year later stating that powers regarding CRZ-II were delegated to the sate government.
Rohatgi claimed that accordingly the state had granted Adarsh permission for going ahead with the high-rise. Merely because there is no document with the word “NOC”, the building cannot be ordered to be demolished, he said.
He further clarified that the society was not seeking any sympathy from the court, as its case involved no illegality.
The final arguments on the petition will continue on Monday.