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New, stringent CRZ rules for Mumbai

india Updated: Aug 13, 2009 02:10 IST
Sayli Udas Mankikar
Sayli Udas Mankikar
Hindustan Times
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This would come as a major blow to builders, especially in the city.

The Centre has scrapped the Coastal Management Zone (CMZ) rules 2008, which was being worked out to replace the existing Coastal Regulation Zone rules (CRZ) of 1991.

Union Minister for Environment Jairam Ramesh declared this at a conference on coastal laws held in the city on Wednesday.

The CRZ demarcates ecologically sensitive zones like mangroves and saltpan lands and restricts construction and developmental activities in these areas to protect the environment.

The scrapping comes as a setback to builders, especially in Mumbai, as CMZ was going to do away with the existing demarcated 200-m-wide ‘no development zones’ under the CRZ, which would have given builders an open hand for construction in these areas.

Several private projects as well as Mumbai’s ambitious projects like cluster development are affected due to restrictions imposed under the CRZ.

“In the past 18 years, the CRZ has been amended several times and it has never been implemented in its entirety. State governments have always implemented it creatively to suit their own purposes. We are trying to bring a change, by keeping in mind the interest of local communities like the fisherfolk and other natives,” said Ramesh.

He, however, said his ministry is considering a separate rulebook for Mumbai. This decision is based on recommendations put forth by an expert committee headed by M.S. Swaminathan to review the draft CMZ notification of 2008.

The committee had suggested that issues regarding Mumbai’s development and redevelopment based on locale-specific amendments — referring to old dilapidated buildings that need urgent attention — be resolved.

It recommended that the government take a careful view of the issue restricting permitted construction to specific areas.

This means Mumbai’s ambitious projects like cluster development, under which the island city’s old and congested areas will be redeveloped in clusters, can get a nod from the Centre. The nod is necessary as a significant portion in south Mumbai comes under the CRZ and would need permission to build higher in areas near the coast.

“There will be no increase in FSI (floor space index) in such coastal areas except that we will be looking at a possibility of lower income housing for special weaker sections through public finance,” he said.

He chose not to comment on giving more FSI for projects like cluster development.

However, Ramesh did not favour the state’s plan to use the over 5,000 acres of saltpan land in the eastern suburbs for slum rehabilitation. “We are not in favour of opening up any such lands, which are valuable for the city,” he said.