The Indian government has ordered the pulling down of a 31-storey tower block in the heart of one of Mumbai’s most exclusive areas following an alleged corruption scandal.
India environment minister, Jairam Ramesh ordered the demolished to set an example to the growing number of construction firms violating rules to stop skyscrapers being built along the country’s coastline.
According to an AP report, Mr. Ramesh said the Adarsh Housing Society tower is an illegal construction because its backers had never applied to his ministry for permission.
The report also stated that the state government ministers had given permission to build a block of flats for war widows and heroes on land previously occupied by the country’s armed forces overlooking the Arabian Sea at Colaba, close to the Gateway to India monument. But it was later disclosed that relatives of several recently retired senior army chiefs and serving state government ministers and top civil servants had been allotted flats despite not meeting the war widows and heroes qualification.
The Indian press reported that the move is part of Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh’s effort to ensure that environment laws are adhered to strictly. The ministry had two options, besides total demolition. One was removing part of the structure in excess of FSI, had the requisite clearance been sought. The other was a government take-over of the building for public use. Both were rejected as it would tantamount to regularising or condoning an egregious violation of CRZ Notification, 1991.
One of the supporters, Kanhaiyalal Gidwani, a former Congress MLC, said that since the case on Adarsh’s environment and other clearance was being heard in the Bombay High Court, the ministry’s order could not be considered as final, report said.
The state’s chief minister, Ashok Chavan, had to resign over the building, after it emerged that relatives of his had flats there, another report stated. Also, he denied any wrongdoing at the time of his resignation and the lawyers representing the owners of the building say they will challenge the demolition order.
Many analysts are arguing that the demolition of the Mumbai building case is one of several corruption scandals that have shaken India’s government.