The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) was kept in the dark about construction activity by the Adarsh Society, A. Senthil Vel, Ministry director, told the Adarsh Commission on Thursday.

The Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) “did not communicate to the MoEF that the Adarsh CHS [Cooperative Housing Society] has started construction activities without CRZ [coastal regulation zone] clearance…Till October 2010, the MCZMA did not inform the MoEF about the construction activity. The MoEF came to know about it from the news given by the media,” Mr. Vel told the Commission.

In the absence of any clearance, “the construction of the Adarsh building is illegal,” he said.

About a month after the scam broke out, the MoEF issued a show cause notice to the society on November 12, 2010. It then passed an order on January 14, 2011, for demolishing the building. The society challenged this order before the Bombay High Court.

On Thursday, Mr. Vel had said the Maharashtra government “misinterpreted” the MoEF's letter to mean that the Ministry had given its approval for development of Adarsh plot. He said that when the Ministry withdrew the powers of granting CRZ II clearances from State governments in 2003, neither the society nor the Maharashtra government approached the MoEF for CRZ clearance.

On Friday, Maharashtra Chief Secretary Ratnakar Gaikwad is set to depose before the Commission.

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