The 31-storey Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society flouted town planning and environment laws, said Central environment ministry officials.
The building is under scrutiny because its promoters are accused of getting the plot in Colaba in the name of building houses for war widows and veterans and then selling them to politicians, bureaucrats and army and navy commanders. The promoters have denied all charges.
The tower was promoted by former defence estates official RC Thakur and Congress leader Kanhaiyalal Gidwani.
The high-rise is built on Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) 2 land, which has a maximum floor space index (FSI) of 1.33 — built-up area cannot exceed 1.33 times the plot size — and a height limit of 30 mt.
However, FSI from an adjoining bus depot was transferred to the building that eventually rose 104 mt high. The 2,669 sq mt depot was kept bare so that the FSI, for which the society paid Rs 6 crore, could be transferred.
In all, residents paid between Rs 75 lakh to Rs 1 crore for flats that would cost Rs 5 crore to Rs 8 crore at market rates.
The FSI transfer was permitted through a government order dated August 5, 2005, by the Revenue Department. But the order stipulated certain conditions, mainly that “the proposal should be forwarded to the Centre for environmental clearance if the construction cost was over Rs 5 crore”.
The proposal was never sent to the Centre or even the state Environment Department. This was in violation of a CRZ notification. Despite this, the civic High Rise Committee cleared a height of 97.60 mt in 2007. The next year, the civic body cleared a height of 104 mt.
The sole environmental clearance the society has is a letter dated March 11, 2003, to then Urban Development Department deputy secretary PV Deshmukh — one of the flat owners — from Joint Director (Union Ministry of Environment and Forests) A Senthil Vel. The letter states that such proposals can be cleared by the state as long as they adhere to the norms.
“This letter can’t be considered clearance. The Union Environment Ministry has no records of the project,” said a senior ministry official on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.