Even though chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has put his weight behind the regularisation of 500 buildings in Mumbai and its satellite city Navi Mumbai that fall in the Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) but were built without a construction nod from a concerned authority, Union environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan is refusing to play ball, which has left their fate uncertain.
“The state had proposed that a hefty penalty be levied to regularise these buildings, but it was not accepted. A majority of these buildings are in Navi Mumbai, but we haven’t worked out a formal list as of now and the number could increase,” said a senior official present at the meeting with the environment minister held on Thursday.
He added that the chief minister cited the recent Campa Cola compound demolition case and pointed out that it is not possible for the state to consider demolishing these buildings given that people are residing in them and third party rights had been created. After Chavan’s insistence, all that Natarajan promised was that the ministry would deliberate on the issue.
For now, the buildings will have to live under the shadow of being illegal.
Sources said one of the reasons the Centre is not keen on regularising such buildings is that it would go against its own judgement in the controversial Adarsh building case.
Hindustan Times had reported in May that there were at least hundred buildings in the city without CRZ clearance and that the state government was as much to blame as the developers for not following the coastal norms.
Following the Adarsh controversy, it came to light that the state government selectively interpreted the coastal regulatory zone notifications that authorised setting up of a state coastal body — the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority — to examine all projects being built in coastal areas.
From 2002 onwards, MCZMA assent became mandatory, but for several years after this notification, the state urban development department did not want to share powers with an authority that had outside experts, and hence continued to take a final call on CRZ projects, with most construction proposals not even being forwarded to the MCZMA.