Sunday, January 16, 2011

Demolish Adarsh, orders Jairam

Demolish Adarsh, orders Jairam

Society Gets Three Months To Comply
New Delhi: The environment ministry ordered demolition of the controversial 31-storey Adarsh housing society building for failing to obtain mandatory green clearances needed for construction in a coastal zone like south Mumbai’s tony Colaba area.

Environment minister Jairam Ramesh issued the order after concluding that Adarsh society lacked permission of the competent authority under the Coastal Regulation Zone notification and had also violated the Floor Space Index — the ratio of floor area to size of the plot — norms. The order was served to the society on Friday and made public on Sunday.

“Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society has violated the very spirit of CRZ notification by not even acknowledging the need for clearance,” the minister’s order read. The society has three months to comply as the minister opted for a full pulldown rather than a partial demolition.

The demolition order is a stiff blow to the society’s high-profile flat owners who include army brass, bureaucrats and politicians accused of illegally changing use of defence land to facilitate the building. The political heat led to the resignation of Ashok Chavan as Maharashtra CM on November 9 and the tough order, the Centre would hope, will demonstrate its will to act against graft. The Adarsh scam — influential allottees got flats meant for Kargil victims at Rs 60 to 80 lakh while their market value is estimated between Rs 6 to Rs 8.5 crore — was exposed by TOI in its report on October 25, 2010 on naval authorities objecting to the building. The Centre’s showcause notice asking why the building should not be razed was reported by TOI on November 13, 2010.

In its report to the ministry, the National Coastal Zone Management Authority said Adarsh promoters simply did not obtain the necessary clearances. It concluded the Maharashtra urban development department was clearly wrong in viewing a Ministry of Environment and Forests letter (MoEF) on March 11, 2003 as a “no-objection certificate”.

By March 2003, a change in the law delegating clearances to the state government and the Maharashtra coastal zone authority had become effective. Yet, both the state urban development and state coastal zone authority said no environmental clearances were given. There is also a FSI violation under the coastal construction rules which in the case of the society is 1.77 instead of 1.33. This is also at odds with the CRZ notification, 1991.

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