The Centre's recent move can potentially cut down an average six months of delay in getting the city's infrastructure projects such as elevated bridges, roads, flyovers in coastal areas off the ground.
The Centre clarified to the state's environment department that "development projects" falling in coastal areas do not have to be referred to the Union ministry for a go ahead. Following this, the state coastal body from January onwards began granting approvals to such projects on its own.
In its communication to the state in November, the Union environment ministry said according to the new Coastal Regulatory Zone notification (CRZ) 2011, "all development activities listed in the notification shall be regulated by the state government… the concerned coastal zone management authority…"
Earlier, all projects in coastal areas worth over Rs5 crore had to get clearance from the state coastal body and then get a final go ahead from the expert appraisal committee at the Centre. This had led to long delays in various projects from the Peddar Road flyover to the Monorail project.
One of the first beneficiaries of this clarification is the Anik-Panjarpole link road, a part of the Eastern Freeway Project that had been stuck for clearance for over a year. The Centre had returned this proposal to the state saying it was in its jurisdiction.
The freeway, passing through the Mumbai Port Trust area, can allow you to zip from Chhatrapati Shivaji) Terminus in the island city to Ghatkopar in the eastern suburbs in 40 minutes. A small stretch of 350m of this link passes through the CRZ area at Mahul creek. The project developers, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) had planned a bridge on stilts for this stretch.
In January, the state coastal body granted the project a go ahead on the condition of compensatory afforestation, and prior permission of the high court.
Two other projects that were waiting in the wings for the Centre's clearance have now got a final go ahead - the proposed widening of Morva Creek bridge in Thane district and the construction of a railway overbridge at Naigaon station also in Thane district.
The projects, which will have to get an approval from the Centre, as specifically mentioned in the notification, include laying transmission lines, pipelines, oil exploration, construction activities of defence and department of atomic energy.