Mumbai: The Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society scam has become synonymous with the blatant violations of Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) norms in Mumbai. But Adarsh is not a standalone case and development rules in Mumbai have frequently been bent to accommodate the construction of many of city's landmark buildings.
Residents of the area where Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society is located allege that numerous instances of illegal encroachment and dumping have been going on in the same area in the name of development.
Activists, meanwhile, say that it is the lure of sea-facing apartments that is initiating CRZ irregularities.
"The 500 meters near sea is the costliest, most sought after and picturesque in the country," says activist YP Singh.
In 2009 alone, the Maharashtra Coastal Regulation Authority received 24 complaints for CRZ violations across the city. Many Mumbai landmark structures, like the Wankhede Stadium, are embroiled in court battles over CRZ norms.
Local authorities are yet to take action on a PIL filed by Colaba Cuffe Parade residents in 2000. Incidentally, the PIL mentions the area around the BEST depot near Adarsh Society.
Film financier Bharat Shah's under-construction building in Walkeshwar has not sought Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) permission and a case in High Court also says it has encroached on a reserved plot.
Shah Rukh Khan's Bandra home Mannat is embroiled in a legal battle for violating norms of altering heritage construction in a CRZ area.
The Supreme Court is also hearing a case against the Inox theaters at Nariman Point for violation of CRZ FSI norms.
Cases have also been filed against slums and dilapidated structures along the coast.
Meanwhile, local politicians are said to be lobbying hard for special FSI consideration for slum redevelopment in the CRZ areas of Mumbai.
While redevelopment will improve the living conditions of fishermen along the coast, the fishermen and their community fear that this would make their land more vulnerable to the bureaucrat-politician-builder nexus that is at the root of all land trouble in Mumbai.
"Giving any land to government will mean we will be thrown out of our place," says Rambhau Patil of the fishermen association.
With increasing cases of violations and newer projects being floated everyday, residents fear that the city's famous shoreline is in grave danger.