Adarsh members likely to move HC on demolition

Last Updated: Sun, Jan 16, 2011 19:30 hrs

Builders say unprecedented, strong signal if goes through

Members of the scam-tainted, 31-storey Adarsh housing society plan to approach the high court here to challenge the Union ministry of environment and forests’ (MoEF) order to demolish the building for violation of the Coastal Regulation Zone Rules, 1991.

Society members had earlier petitioned the HC against the disconnection of water by the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation and power by BrihanMumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) and revocation of the occupation certificate by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority.

The HC had asked MoEF, the defence ministry, the Maharashtra government and the zonal regulation authority to file their affidavits.

Kanhaiyalal Gidwani, a Congress party leader and society member, told Business Standard: "The MoEF order will be thoroughly examined by our counsels to take a call on challenging it in the high court."

Society members have argued that the land belonged to the state government, earlier allotted to BEST and subsequently to the Society because a road widening project was abandoned as a result of a ban on reclamation in 1991. They say the defence ministry doesn’t come into the picture.

‘Rs 500-cr worth’
The 31-storey structure is estimated to be worth Rs 500 crore, given the market value in the Colaba-Cuffe Parade locality, based on the recent revision in the ready reckoner rates in Mumbai. A calculation made by the state urban development and stamps & registration departments put the unit cost per sq ft at Rs 60,000. When the society built the flats, their cost had come to Rs 65 crore, including the cost of the land. Each of the 103 flats was priced at Rs 60-80 lakh for 650 sq ft.

An office bearer of a leading association of real estate builders and developers, who did not want to be identified, told Business Standard: "The market value of the property would be roughly Rs 500 crore. It’s probably the first instance of demolition of such a high-value property." He admitted it was a strong signal for the realty sector to strictly follow building and environment rules.

The order comes at a time when nearly 160 high-rise buildings are under various stages of construction in Mumbai, where experts believe vertical development is the only viable alternative, in the wake of constraints in availability of land and rising land prices.

According to the realty player, Mumbai is witnessing a boom in the sector, despite inflation and the Adarsh scam. Further, the revised Coastal Zone Regulations have opened new opportunities in redevelopment of 146 slum dwelling clusters and 620 dilapidated buildings along the coastline. Besides, 40 fisherfolk colonies would be re-mapped and reconstruction allowed.

Rajesh Mehta, director of Raha Realtors, recalled that "If the Adarsh society is demolished, it will be the second case in Mumbai’s realty sector after 12 floors of the Pratibha building was demolished for violation of floor space index regulations in 1992."

Demolition order to boost Chavan stand

The Union ministry of environment and forests’ order to demolish the scam-tainted Adarsh housing society apartments would boost state chief minister Prithviraj Chavan’s moves in this regard and to bring more transparency in the realty sector.

Chavan, who replaced Ashok Chavan as CM on November 11 last year after the scam broke out, has warned about a nexus between politicians, bureaucrats and middlemen in te sector. He has also spoken of the need for a regulatory body for real estate, with quasi-judicial powers. And, announced a judicial inquiry to probe the Adarsh story.

When asked, the CM said, "I will personally study the ministry order on Adarsh. However, I have already made it clear that there is a need for transparency in the real estate sector. Besides, there is a need for sanity and regulation."

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