The Bombay High Court turned down a plea of a private developer seeking permission to construct a floating hotel and a jetty near the Nariman Point in South Mumbai.
A division bench of justices A S Oka and P N Deshmukh dismissed the petition filed by Rashmi Development Pvt Ltd, challenging an order passed by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and a committee denying permission for the construction of the floating hotel, jetty and ramps abutting the Marine Drive promenade.
The petitioner claimed that the proposed project already had NOCs (no objection certificates) from the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC), the Western Naval Command, the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority, the Coast Guard and the city police.
The HC, in its order, noted that the letters issued by the city police, the Western Naval Command and the Coast Guard on the issue were misconstrued by the company as NOCs.
“The Western Naval Command had never granted NOC for erection of the floating hotel. All that their letter records is that the safety and security issues will have to be examined first,” the bench said.
“Even the Coast Guard in its letter says that a security audit will have to be carried out first before permission is granted for construction of a floating hotel and jetty,” it said.
“After perusal of the facts of the matter and all the letters issued by the authorities, we hold that the grounds stated in the impugned order cannot be said to be illegal. It is impossible to find fault with the impugned order,” the bench said.
The court also asked the state government to take note of the action of the MTDC on the issue.
“The MTDC is a government department. It is aware of the committee headed by senior officials and the fact that the civic body is bound by the committee’s recommendations. Still, the MTDC has openly supported the petitioner. This stand taken by the MTDC needs to be seriously viewed by the state government,” the high court said.
In May last year, the court-appointed three-member committee — which comprised Mumbai Police Commissioner, BMC commissioner and chairperson of the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee —had rejected the proposal.
The committee was constituted by the HC in 2015 to regulate any temporary or permanent construction along the Marine Drive promenade.
The committee rejected the proposal and forwarded its decision to the BMC saying the hotel was meant to be a tourist attraction and, consequently, would lead to much more vehicular movement in the area which would add to the existing traffic woes.
It also said that since the proposed site for the jetty — the end of the Marine Drive promenade, near the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) — came under the jurisdiction of the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority, the latter’s permission must also be taken.
Following the committee’s decision, the BMC too refused to grant permission for the project.