The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporations (BMC) largess to the builders by approving high rises in the coastal area is expected to give a huge spurt to the construction activity in the city.
However environmentalists have criticized the decision saying it will badly affect the environment. The BMC has recently given green signal to 24 such projects of which seven are in South Mumbai and the rest 17 in Mahim and Dadar area.
Calling it a bonanza for the builders, environmentalist Debi Goenka said it was at the cost of the environment. “The previous Congress Government tweaked rules to benefit the interests of the builders and now even this Government followed suit,” said Goenka. “The builders are now taking full advantage of the 2011 amendment and what we are seeing is unrestricted construction activity degrading the environment,” he added.
The Union Environment Ministry in 2011 had carried out an amendment where it cut down on the restriction on construction to 100 metres from the coast from the previous 500 metres. This ensured that the builders who till now had to carry on limited construction were now flushed with incentive Floor Space Index (FSI) which converted to higher construction and in turn more monetary gains. It is probably for the first time the civic body has cleared construction projects in coastal area in large numbers.
The real estate sector has welcomed the easing. “For years, residents of these buildings were deprived of redevelopment due to these antiquated rules. At least now, they can enjoy the same benefits as their other counterparts in the city,” said eminent architect Baba Dalvi.
Similarly Dharmesh Jain, President, Maharashtra Chambers of Housing Industry (MCHI) said Mumbai has no alternative other than to go vertical. “We are living in an island city and hence skyscrapers are needed. In fact, most developed countries have gone vertically and were able to create more open spaces and even the environmental concerns were addressed adequately there,” said Jain.
For years, residents of buildings in the vicinity of coastal areas had to bear the brunt of restriction as builders were reluctant to take up projects as they were unfeasible. The Union Government had to relax condition to accommodate their interests.