Calcutta, June 12: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s government has for the first time thrown the rulebook at a project flagged off by Jyoti Basu.
Two days after Basu inaugurated construction of Silver Spring — the largest and most expensive condominium in the city — on Eastern Metropolitan Bypass, the government has slammed the brakes on the project citing violation of environment laws.
Environment minister Manab Mukherjee said construction could not be allowed till the project’s promoters explained why they had filled vast water bodies. “They must also explain why they did not take the requisite clearance from the state pollution control authorities.”
Planned on an eight-acre plot originally allotted to the Taj group of hotels next to ITC Sonar Bangla, Silver Spring is a joint venture of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation and private promoter Bengal Silver Spring Projects Ltd. Apart from 500 luxury apartments, it was to have more than 100,000 square feet of open area, a family club, an integrated shopping arcade and 10 towers.
The government move, besides discomfiting Basu, has derailed the CMC’s first foray into the real-estate business.
Mukherjee said his department had “irrefutable evidence” that water bodies were filled in violation of norms. “Basu had no knowledge of the violation,” he added.
The minister said he had a satellite picture, taken by Isro, of the site showing the water bodies. More recent reports revealed that most of these had been filled.
The day’s action began with Mukherjee asking department officials to visit the spot and report immediately. After the officials confirmed that several water bodies had been filled for construction, he directed the pollution board to issue a stop-work notice.
Bengal Silver Spring, however, denied filling any water body. “Pollution board clearance was not sought as it was not deemed necessary,” a spokesperson said. The way the stop-work notice arrived had raised doubts, she added. “One fax came telling us we needed a no-objection certificate from the pollution board. The second fax came the next moment, asking us to stop work.”
Mayor Subrata Mukherjee said on phone from London: “I don’t know why the stop-work notice has been issued. The government has given land to so many hotels off the Bypass and most of it once comprised water bodies.”
The pollution board has now asked Bengal Silver Spring officials to appear before it with all relevant papers and explain why they had violated rules.