The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests sought more information from the Maharashtra government on Thursday on approvals given to Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society.
The Colaba society was allegedly built in violation of environmental norms and land was got on the promise that houses would be built for war widows and veterans. However, most of the houses were allotted to politicians, state bureaucrats and Army and Navy commanders.
Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh wants to understand which officials were involved in granting approvals to the building before taking a decision on the matter.
By Friday, the ministry is also likely to ask the Maharashtra Urban Development Department (UDD) to issue a demolition order for 26 of the building’s 31 storeys. However, it first wants to find out how the building came up without the requisite Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) approval.
While Ramesh had earlier said his ministry would issue the demolition order, that is not possible as only the state government can issue such an order. The ministry can only make a recommendation.
A show cause notice on why the building should not be declared illegal is likely to be issued by next week.
“The UDD approval to Adarsh violates the CRZ law,” a ministry official said on condition of anonymity since he is not authorised to speak to the media. The UDD cannot give approval to the building without a no-objection certificate from the state coastal zone management authority. “The authority never even considered the case,” said the official.
Ramesh refused to comment, but confirmed that more information had been sought from the UDD. He also refused to give a timeframe for his final decision on the matter.