Thursday, April 25, 2013

Another Adarsh? Worli towers built without green clearance

MUMBAI: The two housing societies in Worli proposed, built and occupied by state politicians were constructed without mandatory environmental clearances, just like the controversial Adarsh society.

Both the 32-storey Shubhada and 14-storey Sukhada fall in Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) II as they are located within 500 metres of the high tide line. This made it mandatory for the societies to get clearance from the Maharashtra Coastal Management Zone Authority (MCZMA).

Documents with HT show that after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation rejected the proposal to construct these societies in 1997 for lack of a no- objection certificate (NOC) from the Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), the societies approached the state’s urban development department instead of going to MCZMA. Subsequently, in 2003-04, the UDD, which is headed by the chief minister, issued an NOC. This despite a January 2002 MoEF order that all proposals for construction in CRZ areas in Mumbai had to be cleared only by the MCZMA.

State environment secretary Valsa Nair Singh on Wednesday refused to comment on the matter without examining the concerned papers.

“We did not need any CRZ clearance as there were already structures that existed between the sea and our plot, so we did not obtain such a nod,” said Ranjit Deshmukh, chairman of Shubhada and former state Congress chief.

“Despite not requiring CRZ nod, we approached the UDD and got an approval,” said MS Belekar, the societies’ architect

Activist Amit Maru, who exposed the irregularities in the construction of the two highprofile societies, said: “The BMC had made it clear that the society will need CRZ clearance However, the society conveniently went to UDD because MCZMA would never have allowed them to use so much floor space index and go so high.”

The societies house politica heavyweights such as deputy CM Ajit Pawar, former CM Ashok Chavan, state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre and BJP leader Gopinath Munde.
25 Apr 2013
Hindustan Times (Mumbai)
Kunal Purohit

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