Reacting to the Bombay High Court's scathing judgment directing the demolition of the Adarsh housing society in Cuffe Parade, an activist who helped expose the alleged scam said that the verdict is a very positive one.
Simpreet Singh of the National Alliance for People's Movements (NAPM), said, "The Adarsh society has irregularities and illegalities on several fronts. The environmental issues involved are very important. We had been demanding the demolition of the society for several years, and I am very happy with the court's order."
In August 2008, the NAPM had filed a complaint with the department of defence, government of Maharashtra, Union environment department and Mumbai civic authorities alleging irregularities in 31-storey Adarsh society structure in the plush Cuffe Parade area in Mumbai. Subsequently, Simpreet Singh had filed a petition in the Bombay High Court, demanding that it should supervise investigation of the case. The plea was part of a group of petitions which were jointly heard by the high court.
Speaking to Firstpost, Singh said, "The Environment Protection Act, 1986 provides for both civil compensation as well as criminal proceedings for people responsible for causing ecological damage. At present, the FIR in the Adarsh case deals with the aspects of fraud. However, the people responsible for the environmental damage also need to be taken to task."
In its judgment, the Bombay High Court recorded its appreciation for Singh, saying that if it weren't for him, the 'gross violation' by the Adarsh society would not have been detected.
However, to a question whether the Adarsh case would lead to better compliance with environmental regulations, Singh said, "The present government is trying to dilute the very laws which are aimed at protecting ecology. The present environment minister takes pride in stating how many projects he cleared in how many days, rather than how he has taken steps to protect the environment. This is very unfortunate and in such a scenario, I am not very hopeful."
The Adarsh housing society is mired in controversy for alleged environmental violations, conflicts of interest, a dispute over ownership of land and benami transactions.