Even though the Centre has given a four-month deadline to the state to submit the new coastal zone management plans of all its coastal districts, Navi Mumbai is preparing itself for a battle to challenge the validity of the new CZMP maps.
City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco), the planning agency for Navi Mumbai, has filed a special application with the state government contesting the applicability of the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) notification of 2011 that calls for drafting of new coastal zone maps.
The new maps f or Navi Mumbai show that the high tide line has been pushed inwards by nearly 1km, turning lands so far not affected by coastal zone regulations into no-development zones. The new CZMP, if implemented, could affect development of land estimated to cost Rs37,000 crore. It will however have no direct impact on the Navi Mumbai international airport that had got CRZ sanction in 2010.
The Union environment ministry recently communicated to the state that by January next year, projects will not be cleared on the basis of old CRZ demarcations.
“Unless Cidco submits new CZMP maps, there could be a scenario that all construction, infrastructure projects affected by CRZ will come to a complete standstill,” said a senior state government official.
However, Cidco officials argue that submitting CZMP maps will make their task of seeking an exception for Navi Mumbai more difficult.
The agency will instead challenge their applicability on technical grounds and seek application of existing CZMP maps dating to 1996 for clearances to projects.
A Cidco official said: “Navi Mumbai is a planned city and is below sea level,” adding the storm water drainage is through holding ponds, which open into the creek through barriers. These gates have been opened informally by fishermen, leading to salt water ingress and increased salinity and growth of mangroves, he said.
“We have paid for these lands, many of which were paddy fields earlier, but due to salinity are coming under CRZ I. Our argument is that there cannot be blanket criteria for drafting CZMP, and an exception should be made for the city,” said another Cidco official.