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Maharashtra government to ‘immediately’ demolish Nirav Modi’s Alibaug bungalow

The Maharashtra government on Tuesday ordered the immediate demolition of a sprawling sea-front bungalow belonging to fugitive businessman Nirav Modi in Alibaug, as it violates coastal zone regulations

mumbai Updated: Aug 22, 2018 00:58 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times
Nirav Modi,Alibaug bungalow,CRZ norms
Nirav Modi (Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint)

The Maharashtra government on Tuesday ordered the immediate demolition of a sprawling sea-front bungalow belonging to fugitive businessman Nirav Modi in Alibaug, as it violates coastal zone regulations.

It also wanted action against 161 other bungalows — all belonging to high-profile personalities — in Raigad district’s Alibaug and Murud to be expedited.

The decision, taken during a meeting by environment minister Ramdas Kadam, comes after the Bombay high court recently pulled up the Raigad district collector for not demolishing the illegal structures.

Of the 272 bungalows in Alibaug and Murud that violated coastal zone regulations, 110 belong to locals, and the government has decided not to take action against them.

While the state government had issued notices to the owners of the bungalows in 2015, no action was taken against the structures as the owners moved the district magistrate’s court, which stayed demolition.

In the case of Nirav Modi’s bungalow, the demolition had not been stayed. “Two of the illegal bungalows belong to Nirav Modi and Mehul Chokshi. The bungalow belonging to Nirav Modi has been attached by the Enforcement Directorate. We have informed ED, and have asked the Raigad collector to immediately demolish the bungalows,” Kadam said. Apart from Nirav Modi’s bungalow, Kadam said at least four more will be immediately demolished.

For now, Choksi’s bungalow is safe from demolition as action against it had been stayed by the local court.

According to Kadam, the district court had stayed action against demolition under the Maharashtra Regional Town planning (MRTP) Act, 1966. The case against these structures has now been registered under the Environment Protection Act (EPA), which is the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) jurisdiction. “The stay granted under MRTP Act will not stand valid, said Kadam.

Raigad district collector Vijay Suryavanshi said the state has now moved the NGT about demolishing the remaining structures. “The demolition action was stayed by a district court in 2015. We have now moved the NGT by lodging FIRs against these structures under the EPA. The charge sheets in more than 50% of the cases have been filed, and the director general of police has brought this to the notice of the honourable court. As the cases are now pending with the NGT, the vacation of the stay by local court is just a formality. We have moved the district magistrate court to vacate its stay, and expect it within a month. We will begin demolition immediately after that,” Suryavanshi said.

He added that his office has sought a legal opinion about whether the state requires the ED’s permission to demolish bungalows it has attached.

Some bungalows, which were constructed well before the CRZ norms came into effect in 1991, have been exempted from action.

First Published: Aug 22, 2018 00:57 IST