The Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) is meeting here next week here to discuss the Adarsh Housing Society CRZ clearance issue. “They were not granted CRZ permission. So there is no question of regularisation of the structure,” a senior official in the Environment Department told The Hindu.
After the MCZMA meeting, the Adarsh matter will be transferred to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).
Documents reveal that the Environment Department issued notice to the society in November 2009 itself, under Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act 1986, seeking details of the CRZ clearance.
“On the basis of just one letter of complaint, which was not even addressed to us, we conducted an enquiry in the matter,” a senior official told The Hindu on condition of anonymity.
Under this section, if the structure is found violative of the Act, the Department will have the right to demolish it.
But the Department did not have any document for verification of the complaint made by an NGO to the Western Naval Command. A copy of it was marked to the Department. Though construction of the housing society started in 2004, the complaint was written only in 2008.
After the Department received the complaint in 2008, the notice was sent to the society in 2009, seeking a clarification on CRZ approval. This was done after a preliminary investigation revealed that neither the MCZMA nor the Department had any details about the society.
The society replied in December 2009 quoting correspondence from the Urban Development Department, which had given the file details of the CRZ approval.
Investigations by the Environment Department revealed that the file number and details quoted by the society were mere correspondence between the Urban Development Department and the MoEF in 2003, in which the Ministry had written to the Urban Development department that CRZ clearance was not given for Adarsh.
The Urban Development Department had also written to the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MGGM) in 2003 saying the housing society had received CRZ approval and that the MoEF had no objection to the construction.
Many senior officials have said the Urban Development Department and the MCGM are also at fault as they seem to have neglected the lack of CRZ clearance.
“The CRZ clearance is a bunch of documents in itself. It cannot be neglected,” said a senior official in the Environment Department.
After the society responded in December 2009 saying it had all necessary approvals, the Environment Department sent the file to the Urban Development Department in January 2010 asking for details and clarifications about the clearances.
The Urban Development Department replied in February 2010 saying it had forwarded the query to MCGM and was yet to receive a reply. “The matter may be presented before the MCZMA,” the reply stated.
Senior officials in the Environment Department said the MCZMA discussed only fresh cases and approvals for cases like Adarsh could not be introduced subsequently before it.
The response from the Urban Development Department did not give any clarification and hence the same query was resent to it in May 2010.
The Department replied saying it had not yet received any details from MCGM. In 2010 itself, the Environment Department sent four remainders to the Urban Development Department. Environment Department officials said action could not be taken in respect of a structure without all details. “We had even prepared a demolition notice in April this year, but the proposal remained pending because we had not received any reply from the Urban Development Department,” an official said.The Urban Development Department finally replied to the query on October 29, 2010 saying the society had violated the CRZ rules. “Procedures will take their course now. The MCZMA will meet next week and decide,” an official said.