Demolition sword hangs over Adarsh flats

Demolition sword hangs over Adarsh flats

The Union Environment Ministry on Friday issued a show-cause notice to Adarsh Housing Society in south Mumbai asking it why its illegal 31-storey building should not be demolished.

Initiating the government process to raze the controversial  building, the notice was issued because the high-rise was constructed in violation of the Coastal Regulatory Zone  (CRZ) norms of 1991. The building is located in an area that falls under CRZ II category for which clearances are required to be taken from the state environment authorities.

“The entire building is illegal as no permissions were accorded either by the state or the Central Environment Ministry. There is blatant violation of CRZ 1991 norms,” Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said here.

Ramesh said issues on the ownership of land was irrelevant to the Environment Ministry. And there is no confusion on whether the building is illegal or only those floors beyond the permissible limits.

“The entire building is illegal and not those flats up to sixth floor,” he asserted. Had the Society applied for permission under CRZ II norms, it would have received clearances to build up to a maximum of nine floors. “But it does not mean that the ministry is considering regularisation up to nine floors. I am against regularisation as a policy. It sets a bad example,” he said.

The scam-tainted Society has been given 15 days to send their response, followed by another week to present their case in front of the Central officials in person. “We will consider what further action can be taken on the removal of unauthorised structure after that,” he said.

Almost a year ago, the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management authority issued a show-cause notice to the Society seeking information on CRZ clearance. The Society said it received approval from the state Urban Development Department.

The state authority did not take any further action even though it has now been proven that there was no clearance even from the Urban Development Department.  Asked about the follow-up action by the state authority, Ramesh said, “We live in a democracy and the MCZMA is functioning in a larger system.”

He indicated that political influences may be at play behind the construction of the illegal structure.  A new set of CRZ norms will come into effect after November 15, which will enable the Centre to enforce the CRZ rules more strictly. Also a new satellite-based data collection system is being readied to find out large scale violation.

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