Photo Credit: Twitter
Photo Credit: Twitter

Mumbai: Observing that illegal construction is rampant in metro cities, the principal seat of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) recently imposed a whopping fine of Rs 1 crore on a city-based developer – Rustomjee Group, for carrying out illegal construction in Bandra, Mumbai.

The NGT while considering the impact of illegal construction on the environment, constituted a five-member committee to conduct a ‘carrying capacity’ study of Mumbai and other cities. A three-member bench headed by chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said, “Bombay is a highly congested city and any further constructions must be strictly legal.

Any illegal construction must be visited with permissible adverse legal action.” “As a yardstick of sustainability, urban carrying capacity is an important conceptual underpinning that must guide a welfare state in promoting sustainable urban development.

The urban disease – frequently besetting the cities such as traffic congestion, housing shortage, lack of amenity, pose actual challenges and impediments to sustainable development,” the bench noted. The bench was seized with an appeal filed by Anil Tharthare, a Bandra resident, who accused the developer of bypassing the mandatory procedure in constructing its Oriana Residential Project.

“The FSI of the project was hiked from 2.5 to 4.14 and environment clearance was directly given by the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) without referring the matter to the State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC),” claimed advocate Aditya Pratap, who appeared for Tharthare.

Pratap further argued that the developer had commenced construction without obtaining the mandatory ‘environment clearance.’ from the authorities. Having considered the material on record, the bench said, “Our experience shows that present is not the only case of illegal construction.

Such activity is rampant posing serious challenge to environment. It appears to be necessary to obtain a report from experts on factual situation and approach to be adopted in handling such issues when construction is made without valid EC.” “We note that the area is already highly congested and with the expansion of the project, there is adverse impact on the environment, including the air and water quality because of added municipal waste including sewage and because of further congestion including traffic,” the bench noted.

In its brief order, the bench also comprising of Justice K. Ramakrishanan, Dr Nagin Nanda also referred to the World Health Organisation list which shows that out of the 10 most polluted cities in the world, 9 are in India.

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