In a first, the real estate and infrastructure projects awaiting coastal regulation zone (CRZ) nod has come down to zero, with the state’s coastal zone management authority hearing more than 200 proposals in a four-day meeting last month. A majority of them were cleared.
The list of projects cleared by the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) includes two new Metro lines for Mumbai, which will add 42.1km to Mumbai’s meagre metro rail network.
Satish Gavai, principal secretary, state environment department, said, “Around 220 proposals had piled up and the MCZMA cleared them all in a marathon meeting last month. On the final day, the authority was even ready to consider drop-in cases, [not on the agenda].”
CRZ refers to the ecologically-sensitive area close to the shore, mangroves or sand dunes, where all construction activities are regulated according to a Central government notification. Maharashtra has a 720-km long coastline stretching across the districts of Mumbai, Thane, Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg.
In the past, the MCZMA mostly had meetings going on for a day or two days. In these meetings, it usualy handles 40 to 50 cases, including those related to policy reviews, CRZ violations and court cases, a far cry from the 220-odd cases it heard in four days in July.
In 2014, the authority met eight times and handled 288 cases. Aggressively trying to cut down the pendency, in 2015, the MCZMA had 15 meetings during which it handled 797 proposals, including discussions and court cases, after which the pendency reduced to double digits by January. However, the list ballooned once again, as the authority was unable to hold a single meeting after two in rapid succession in January, first due to the lack of an extension to the old coastal regulation plan, and later due to a court-mandated stay.
The stay was ultimately vacated in July, after which the authority had its latest record meeting. Overall in 2016, the MCZMA has looked at 315 proposals in three meetings so far.
Most of the stalled proposals that the MCZMA cleared last month were from the coastal districts of Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg and Raigad seeking clearance for repairs, alterations and additions to their old dilapidated homes, Gavai said. “Many of these were pending for months. Besides, several pending infrastructure services projects in coastal areas, too, were cleared, most significantly, two new Metro lines for Mumbai,” he added.
Praveen Darade, additional metropolitan commissioner at the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), said, “Portions of both the Dahisar-DN Nagar Metro line and the DN Nagar-Mankhurd Metro are close to CRZ areas. With the MCZMA’s approval, we can now start construction of the two lines.”
The Dahisar-DN Nagar Metro is proposed to be an 18.5-km long elevated corridor and estimated to cost Rs6,410 crore, while the 23.6-km elevated DN Nagar-Mankhurd line is to be an extension of the first corridor, enhancing east-west connectivity, expected to cost Rs10,970 crore.