The state coastal regulation body has ruled that Harsiddhi Heights, an 18-storey high rise at Worli, has violated Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) norms. The building has several influential IPS and IAS officials as its members.
On Friday, the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) - the state coastal panel that scrutinises all projects falling within CRZ limits - confirmed that the building did not have the mandatory environmental clearances, besides not having a commencement certificate beyond plinth level, nor an occupation certificate. It also noted that in September 2008, Urban Development Department (UDD), and subsequently the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA), had issued stop-work notices to the building. Yet, an 18-storey tower was built.
The panel will submit a report on the building's violations to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). Former IPS officer turned lawyer, YP Singh, who has a flat in the building said, "Statutory approvals are the builder's responsibility. We will seek compensation from him for this''.
The developer, Prithvi Corporation had submitted a proposal to the SRA in 2001, which gave a letter of intent (LoI) for the project in May 2003. In 2005, a commencement certificate up to the plinth was issued by SRA.
But the project was referred neither to the state coastal body nor to the Union environment ministry for clearance.
The authority also slammed the SRA for misinterpreting letters of the UDD and using them as basis for not insisting on the mandatory CRZ clearance.
The state coastal body first sent a notice to the developer under Section 5 of the Environment Protection Act (EPA) on March 30. Subsequently, the developer was given two opportunities to go before the authority for a hearing, but he failed to do so.
The developer, however, submitted a reply to the state coastal body, which said that the project did not require clearance from MCZMA, as there is no such provision in the CRZ notification of 1991 and was first introduced in the new notification of 2011.
The reply also stated, "amended notification of the MoEF dated April 2003 asking clearance [of the Centre for projects over Rs5 crore] does not apply to this proposal''.
The authority has, however, stated that MCZMA clearance was mandatory since 2002 and, when the SRA gave its LoI for the project in May 2003, even the amended notification that demanded clearance of MOEF was in force. The authority also ruled that CRZ notification of 1991 empowers "concerned authorities at the state level to regulate construction activities in coastal areas".