Demolish Adarsh building in 3 months,says Environment Ministry

New Delhi/Mumbai, Jan 16 (PTI) In a terse order, theEnvironment ministry today directed the scam-hit AdarshHousing Society in Mumbai to demolish within three monthsthe "unauthorised" 31-storey building in upmarket Colaba forviolating coastal regulations and restore the area in itsoriginal condition.

If the society failed to comply with it on its own,"the ministry will be constrained to enforce this direction",the order said.

The society meant to house families of Kargil martyrscame under the scanner following reports that flats were doledout to politicians, top defence personnel including two formerArmy Chiefs and bureaucrats as well as their kin.

"The unauthorised structure built at Block-6, BackbayReclamation Area, near Backbay Bus Depot, Capt.Prakash PatheMarg, Colaba, Mumbai-400005, A-Ward should be removed in itsentirety and the area should be restored to its originalcondition," the three-page order said.

In Mumbai, the Maharashtra government said it wouldsoon take a decision on the Environment Ministry''s direction.

"We will read the order issued by the EnvironmentMinistry on the Adarsh society and decide soon on what is tobe done," State Environment Minister Sanjay Devtale told PTI.

Counsel for the Adarsh Society Satish Maneshinde saidthe order would be challenged in the High Court once its copywas available.

He alleged that the contents of the order were"leaked" to the media earlier this week while the order itselfwas issued on a Sunday.

"I think it is totally malafide and we will challengeit as and when we get the copy of the order," he said.

"Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society has violated thevery spirit of CRZ (Coastal Regulation Zone) Notification,1991 by not even acknowledging the need for clearance underthis notification...Ignorance of law an never be an excuse fornon-compliance," Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said in astatement posted on the Ministry''s website.

Accusing the society of "egregious" violation, Rameshsaid the Ministry had three options at its disposal --"removal" of the entire structure, removal of that part of thestructure in excess of the floor space index (FSI) andrecommending the government to takeover the building forpublic use which could be determined later.

"I have decided on Option I (removal of entirestructure). The fact that there may well be other cases ofsimilar violations provide no grounds for mitigation of thepenalty attracted by such an egregious violation as that bythe Society.

"Any other decision would have diluted the strongprecedents that have been set in judgements of the SupremeCourt and different High Courts," he said.

The Minister said Option II (removal of the part whichis in excess of FSI) was "rejected" since it would have beentantamount to regularising or condoning an egregious violationof CRZ Notification, 1991..

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