The Bombay High Court on Monday restrained Vasant Sagar Properties (VSP),the builders of a 14-storey residential tower off Marine Drive,from carrying out further construction. The building is already 11 storeys tall. The directive came during the hearing of a PIL filed by Federation of Churchgate Residents (FCR) that sought the demolition of the building,claiming that it is a threat to the heritage precinct.
The FCR had alleged that the construction was carried out without the necessary sanctions from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC). The old five-storey building was razed to be replaced by a 14-storey building allegedly in violation of several provisions in law.
Additional Solicitor General Kevic Setalvad told the court that the building was apparently constructed without any permissions. Every permission,condition has been violated, Setalvad said. He said earlier,the cost of the project was under Rs 5 crore and the MoEFs permission was not required. However,the project cost had now escalated to Rs 39 crore and the builders had not even applied for permission from the ministry,he said.
FCR counsel Aspi Chinoy said the building is 58.6-m-high while no other residential building on the Marine Drive stretch is above 35 m. This,he argued,harmed the sanctity of a heritage precinct. He mentioned that the building entails two storeys free of FSI,one for a 36 space parking lot and the other for a swimming pool. This epitomises how construction works in Mumbai.
Chinoy also told the court that the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA),which had granted clearance to the construction on December 7,2011,had specifically stipulated that the permission was given subject to a clearance from the MHCC.
VSP counsel Milind Sathe,however,told the court that they had sought all necessary permissions. He said as per a Government Resolution of September 4,2009,special permission is required from the Municipal Commissioner (MC) for reconstruction of old buildings under Regulation 33 (6) of the DCR. Under 33 (6),permission from the heritage committee is not required; the MC can grant permission for buildings higher than 24 m, Sathe said. He added that Marine Drive is a proposed heritage precinct and has not been accorded the status yet.
While restraining further construction,Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice N M Jamdar clarified that they had not ordered demolition and VSP could complete construction up to the fifth floor. Asking the respondents to file their affidavits,the court adjourned the case till August 28.