Two high-rises developed by Orbit Corp in Lower Parel have come under the scanner of the state environment panel for construction allegedly without obtaining prior clearance.
State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) made a note of the violations while hearing proposals for environmental clearances to Orbit Grand Complex at Murgi Chawl and Dadabhai Chawl and Orbit Terraces on NM Joshi Marg, Senapati Bapat Road.
“In case of violations we follow the procedure laid down by the ministry of environment and forests in a circular dated December 12, 2012. The state environment department will take legal action against the company under Environment Protection Act and the company board will have to give it in writing that such violations will not be repeated,” said SEIAA member PMA Hakeem.
The construction will stop till the procedure is completed and the developer gets environmental clearance.
Another SEIAA member said the developer also did not obtain approval from the high-rise committee.
State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC), which is first to screen such proposals, had recommended both projects for environmental clearance. It, however, also mentioned the violations, saying substantial work of the rehab component and partial work of the sales component at Orbit Grand had been completed.
SEAC asked SEIAA to initiate action after due verification.
The committee, which hears proposals for projects over 20,000 square metres, also observed that while there were wide roads on two sides of the building, the other two sides provided inadequate access — 1.5 and 3 metres — to fire tenders.
Pujit Aggarwal, CEO and MD of Orbit Corp, denied violations at Orbit Grand and said the company had acquired an intimation of disapproval and commencement certificate before starting work.
“While calculating plot area, BMC was earlier excluding free-of-FSI area such as entrance lobby, basement, parking, elevator, elevator lobby and terraces. According to this calculation, the construction was less than 20,000 square metres,” he said.
However, the Union ministry of environment and forests issued a clarification in 2011 to include non-FSI area in built-up area and Orbit had to apply for environment clearance for Orbit Grand, he said.
“We will pay the penalty, which is a token amount, and are confident of getting environment clearance in a month,” Aggarwal said.
An SEAC member said as the rules for calculation of plot area changed midway, many projects were being treated as violations. All these constructions began on the assumption that environment clearance was not necessary, he said.