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Plan for the revamp of Mumbai’s once-iconic drive-in theatre has hit a green hurdle. The Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) has ordered that construction work for the revamp of the property at Bandra Kurla Complex be stopped for now. While the plot is owned by the state, it was leased out to the Indian Film Combine Private Limited at a nominal rent to run the drive-in theatre . The lease agreement between the two parties was signed in 1991.
The theatre was pulled down in 2003, with the Indian Film Combine Private Limited bagging the government’s nod for redevelopment of the property measuring 8.70 lakh square feet.
While the revamp plans include reconstruction of a smaller sized drive-in theatre, the bulk of the built-up space is being used for constructing commercial offices, a shopping mall, a luxury hotel and a multiplex. The new drive-in theatre has been proposed on the roof of the mall.
Additional Chief Secretary (Environment), Satish Gavai, who heads the coastal authority, said: “We had received a complaint alleging major violations of the coastal regulation zone norms in the construction activity. Prime facie, the authority members felt there was some justification in it. This is why we have directed that the construction be stopped till the authority decides on the complaint.”
While the authority’s order for stopping construction was issued to the Mumbai Metropolitan Commissioner’s office on August 11, Metropolitan Commissioner U P S Madan, said: “We have not received the orders yet. But to our (MMRDA’s) mind, there has been no coastal zone violation.” The MMRDA is the nodal town planning agency in BKC.
Santosh Daundkar, the complainant, has raised an allegation that the construction was being carried out without environmental clearance.
“The MCZMA’s clearance has not been taken in the case. There is no environmental clearance. Besides, a good part of the construction falls within 50 m of the mangrove cover mapped by the Maharashtra Remote Sensing Authority. The High Court had previously ordered that all construction within 50 m of such mangrove cover be stopped,” said Daundkar’s lawyer, Y P Singh.
But Madan claimed that the project had been granted environmental clearance by the state’s Urban Development department in 2003 itself.
Singh alleged that they had first approached the MMRDA with the complaint but the evidence they put out was ignored. “Later, we decided to approach the MCZMA,” he said.
Besides coastal violations, Singh has also alleged FSI violations and there had also been an illegal change of user in the construction.
A director of the Indian Film Combine Private Limited, when contacted, refuted the allegations as baseless. “This is a false complaint. We have all approvals in place. We will clarify the matter with the authority.”
As part of its investigation, the MCZMA, which has also sought clarifications from Mumbai (Suburban) Collector’s office and the Mumbai municipality, has now sought information on various details regarding permissions and approvals granted to the project.
Incidentally, the private company had earlier announced plans to roll out the new drive-in theatre by the end of 2017.