The State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC) has picked on two major construction projects for carrying out work without obtaining environment clearance (EC).
The projects include the commercial tower-cum-parking lot that is being jointly developed by Reliance Industries and Wadhwa developers at Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) and the central library and residential project by Indiabulls group at Kalina. Noting that the developers in both cases have initiated the construction work without obtaining the prior environmental clearance (EC),the SEAC has directed the state environment department to look in to the violation and take necessary action.
While officials were unwilling to be quoted due to the ongoing election code of conduct,a senior government official said that any project that is being carried out without an EC will be immediately issued a notice under section 5 of the Environment Protection Act and can be directed to stop work until further orders.
The BKC project is coming up on a 2.5 acre land (C 66) that Reliance Industries purchased during an auction from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) in 2007. Using an FSI of over 8,the company along with Wadhwa developers will be developing a 20 floor commercial building with four floors of parking at an estimated cost of Rs 1,581 crore.
The Indiabulls project is proposed over a four acre plot within the Kalina University campus. The project was dogged by controversy as the land was originally transferred by Mumbai University to the state government on the condition that the latter would build a public library on the entire plot. Questions were raised about the decision of the state Public Works Department under minister Chhagan Bhujbal to call for bids and hand over half the plot to a developer. Indiabulls will be constructing a 13 storey high-end residential project in exchange of building a six storey library on the other half. The company has started work on leveling the site.
Environment experts point out that the EC is granted based on the comprehensive mitigating measures proposed by developers. They state that projects over 20,000 sq m have to get a prior environment clearance even before carrying out the basic ground preparation work.
When contacted by Newsline,Indiabulls refused to comment on the issue.
A spokesperson for Wadhwa group said,We have permissions to construct till plinth from MMRDA. As per EC norms,we can construct up to 20,000 m at this stage. We are well within this limit. The spokesperson added that the company has been following up with the authorities for EC since the last fifteen months.