If Mumbai has to be made a business-friendly city, the Maharashtra government will have to seek amendment to environment laws that mandate ‘prior clearance’ for any big construction and industrial project.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), presenting its road map for ‘Rebooting Mumbai’ as a business-friendly city before chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday, made this recommendation, calling for amendment to the 2006 environment notification and the Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) law, for faster clearances.
The presentation, made by BMC commissioner Sitaram Kunte for the Make in Maharashtra initiative, also sought major changes, like outsourcing certification required from internal BMC departments – such as the departments of fire, engineering, water planning, traffic, storm-water drainage and roads – to registered consultants, and even allowing self-certification by developers for approvals required from Tree Authority, pest and solid waste management. Fadnavis is expected to go ahead with most of these suggestions, said sources, given he has set a target of one year to transform the business environment in the city.
At present, 41 permits are required from the BMC for any construction work in the city, out of which 14 are no-objection certificates (NOCs) required from BMC and 16 are NOCs required from other agencies. These 30 NOCs have to be obtained by the developer before a commencement certificate is handed over.
It takes a minimum of 162 days to complete this process, while bigger projects take more time. The BMC wants to reduce this to 94 days, by bringing down the number of steps from 27 to 13.
"If the clauses that call for ‘prior permission’ are dropped from the state’s environment impact notification for 2006 and the CRZ law, commencement certificates can be given to projects quickly and work initiated. The environment clearance can be taken even after work is initiated," said a senior official, terming the amendment as a key reform.
The clearance under the state environment impact notification (required for projects spanning over 20,000 sq m) takes around seven to nine months, while the CRZ clearance takes four to six months.
For all other NOCs required from the Central government, the recommendation is to amend relevant acts to allow construction up to plinth level, pending these clearances. The same will apply to state-level NOCs such as the nods from the heritage and highrise committees. Activists, however, have questioned the move to amend Central laws, saying this can dilute environment scrutiny and lead to rampant violations.