With the Central Government relaxing development rules in coastal areas, Mumbai can look forward to more affordable housing.
The Union Environment Ministry issued a draft notification on Monday on coastal regulations, giving special relaxations to Mumbai. It allowed housing in coastal areas through slum rehabilitation projects as well as redevelopment of old and dilapidated buildings that are found mostly in south and south-central Mumbai.
However, while doing so, developers will have to form joint ventures with government agencies with the latter holding the majority stake. Experts said this would result in more housing for the middle and lower middle classes and will also benefit residents of old, dilapidated buildings.
Dilapidated buildings that were in the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) — within 500 metres of the coastline — could not be redeveloped earlier, forcing residents to continue living there despite their precarious state.
“The notification will help us push for slum rehabilitation and redevelopment of old buildings,” said state Environment Minister Suresh Shetty.
He said developers rebuilding dilapidated buildings could form joint ventures with the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA), while slum rehabilitation projects could proceed through alliances with the government-owned Shiv Shahi Punarvasan Ltd.
MHADA said that development in CRZ areas would facilitate the building of an estimated 1 lakh affordable houses in the coming years.
Housing activists too welcomed the relaxation. “The state will generate a decent amount of housing; this should go to the needy,” said Ramesh Prabhu, president, Maharashtra Society Welfare Association.
Pranab Datta, vice-chairman and managing director of the real estate consultancy Knight Frank India, said a balanced approach was needed. “Rigid implementation of rules will be self-defeating and builders will back out. At the same time, the government should ensure it gets a fair amount of affordable housing stock,” he said. The notification will also boost cluster development projects — planned redevelopment of an area by demolishing old structures and building mini townships in their place.
Mayank Gandhi, director of Lok Group and secretary of Remaking of Mumbai Federation, said the notification was a godsend for lakhs of people living in crumbling chawls. “It would bring parity between those living in CRZ and non-CRZ areas. The former could not avail of the benefits of redevelopment earlier,” he said.
Over 10 lakh people live in slums near along the Mumbai coastline. All of them can now look forward to proper housing. Hindustan Times reported on Tuesday that the Centre okayed the relaxation keeping in mind the difficulties faced by local communities and the need for development.