The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has denied that it has issued a No Objection Certificate (NOC) on March 11, 2003, to Adarsh Housing Cooperative Society, Mumbai, for construction of a residential building. The Navy has taken strong objection to grant of clearances to the building, citing violation of norms.

The society, with its high profile members, is in the eye of a storm for violating environmental and other norms and misusing the land granted to it. The MoEF issued a statement on Thursday giving the exact text of the letter dated March 11, 2003, which it had issued to P.V. Deshmukh, Deputy Secretary, Urban Development Department, government of Maharashtra.

The letter notes that “the proposed residential complex falls within the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) - II area. This Ministry has already delegated the powers to the State government for undertaking development in Coastal Regulation Zone -II. Accordingly, the proposed construction may be taken up as per the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 1991 (as amended from time to time) and the approved revised Coastal Zone Management Plan of Greater Mumbai.”

The MoEF clarified that any reference from the State government about the coastal matters was examined under the provisions of the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 1991, and the approved Coastal Zone Management Plan of Mumbai.

Height no problem

Citing that the housing society received all necessary clearances and permissions, Adarsh society, in letter, stated that the building plan was approved by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority in stages as per rules. “CRZ [Coastal Regulatory Zone] clearance was obtained from the Ministry of Environment and Forests, New Delhi vide letter NoF.No.J-17011/46/2002-IA III dated March 11, 2003.” It also said that CRZ clearance had nothing to do with the height of the building.

It claimed that the height of the building (103.4 meters) was approved by the High Rise Committee headed by Retired Chief Justice of Tamil Nadu. “The final Commencement Certificate was issued by the MMRDA on August 04, 2010 and, lastly, Occupation Certificate was also given on September 16, 2010.”

The MoEF denied that this letter gave any permission, pointing out that in March 2003, all construction in the CRZ area, which was permissible under the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification and were in consonance with the approved Coastal Zone Management Plan of Mumbai, had to be considered by the Maharashtra State Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA). At that time, the approval authority was meant to be the State government; in the case of Maharashtra, it was the environment department. The society did not make any application to the environment department, it is learnt.

The Ministry had approved the revised Coastal Zone Management Plan of Mumbai on January 19, 2000. To obtain clearance under the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 1991, the project proponent needs to submit the proposal enclosing the details of construction, classification of Coastal Regulation Zone area in the requisite format to the concerned Coastal Zone Management Authority; in this case this proposal should have been submitted to the MCZMA.

The MCZMA was constituted in January, 2002, in compliance with a Supreme Court order. The statement said clearance under the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification 1991 by the MOEF was in a prescribed format. The clearance letter issued by the Ministry was always addressed to the Member Secretary, MCZMA, and copied to all concerned. The power to issue of Coastal Regulation Zone clearance was withdrawn on April 22, 2003, in respect of projects costing more than Rs. 5 crore.