‘If Worli high-rise is a threat, it will be razed’
If the Indian Navy proves that Harsiddhi Heights, the 18-storey building near its missile testing facility, INS Trata, at Worli is a threat to national security, the building will be pulled down, the Bombay high court has said.
A division bench of justice DK Deshmukh and justice KK Tated said that if the building, which is only 57metres from INS Trata, is found to be “a real danger to national security it will be pulled down”.
The court was hearing a petition filed by the Navy in October 2010 seeking that the building be demolished because of its proximity to INS Trata and the aerial view it offered of the naval base posed a threat.
The Navy also contended that the developer did not get a clearance from it before building the structure, which is now home to retired police officers and bureaucrats.
Additional solicitor general Darius Khambata and advocate Dhiren Shah argued that the construction was carried out on the basis of “deemed permission”. “Without an occupation certificate and commencement certificate up to the plinth level, can the building be allowed to stand and be occupied?” Khambata asked. Khambata said although the Navy had written to the slum rehabilitation authority (SRA) saying that the building was a danger to INS Trata, the SRA said it did not have the powers under the Development Control Regulations to stop construction.
Contrary to this, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) refused permission for development on a nearby plot because it was in the vicinity of the naval base, Khambata said.
Justice Deshmukh reacted to this saying: “The right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. They are dealing with [the] safety of [the] nation. Everyone is aware of naval installations there except [the] SRA.”
The judges have directed the SRA and BMC to produce files pertaining to Harsiddhi Heights within two weeks.
The counsel for Harsiddhi, Aspi Chenoy, argued that if the Navy had apprehensions, it could have invoked its power to halt construction like it has done in Malad and Santacruz. Justice Deshmukh responded saying even if the Navy has not invoked its powers, if there is real danger, Harsiddhi Heights will have to be demolished.
When Chenoy told the court that the Navy has given a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) to the 23-storeyed Godrej Bayview building that overlooks the Worli naval base, justice Deshmukh said: “If it is a threat to national security, it [Godrej Bayview] will also come down.”
The court has said that Navy will have to explain its NOC to Godrej Bayview and also if its officials have indulged in dereliction of duty, compromising on national security.