A slum redevelopment project at Bandra by Hub Town Limited that was struck down by the Centre for violating environmental norms has now got relief from the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the body that settles environment disputes.
Following the NGT order, the state coastal body last month reviewed the project and withdrew its earlier stop-work notice, clearing decks for a multi storey building. This order could potentially give relief to 50-odd projects cleared by Slum Rehabili-tation Authority before 2002, before coastal clearances from the Centre became mandatory.
The proposal for a 20-storey building was cleared by the SRA in 1998, with a floor space index (FSI) of 2.5. The letter of intent to the project was later amended in 2004. In coastal areas, FSI of only 1.25 is permissible. SRA sought coastal clearance for the project from Maharashtra State Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) in 2007.
In 2009, the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) rejected this proposal, saying development of open spaces or gardens in coastal areas into a residential project was not permissible, and in 2011, MCZMA issued a stop work notice to the project. In 2012, the National Coastal Zone Management Authority also turned it down.
The developer moved an appeal against the MoEF and NCZMA orders to the NGT last year. The NGT in its order last month slammed both MoEF and NCZMA saying their “decisions were contrary to principals of natural justice”. The MCZMA on April 26 said the project was cleared prior to 2002, when SRA was the competent authority. It also said that only 20 per cent of the approved 1.25 FSI has been utilised and that no rules had been broken.
In a turnaround, the coastal body also said that it was proved that the site had slums since 1976 as per the census, and the plot may have been reserved for a garden but as it never actually sported a garden, it did not violate CRZ norms.