The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is unlikely to give its go ahead to state government’s proposal to build coastal roads by reclaiming land, though the option of building coastal road on stilts is open for the state.
Senior officials from the ministry, who were present at the state secretariat on Friday, to discuss the guidelines for implementing Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) told HT that building coastal roads through reclamation was not permissible under the new norms.
“The new CRZ notification allows buildings on sea links, bridges and roads on stilts in coastal areas but there is no scope for allowing road to be built by reclaiming land,’’ said a senior MOEF official, who did not want to be quoted.
This could create a problem for the state government’s plans to scrap the western freeway project or Versova-Nariman Point sea link in favour of building coastal roads along the entire stretch by reclaiming land. The agency implementing the project, Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), was seriously mulling over coastal roads as they are a far cheaper option and would have reduced the cost of the project by one-third. MSRDC is now likely to weigh options of building coastal road on stilts and sea link.
However, building a coastal road on stilts is not as cheap as building a coastal road by reclamation.
The state environment secretary Valsa Nair Singh confirmed, “Building coastal roads by reclaiming land is not allowed in the new notification. This was sorted out in the meeting with the central officials on Friday.’’
State officials had also raised queries about the permissible floor space index (FSI) for slum rehabilitation projects and old buildings to be redeveloped in the CRZ areas as allowed in the new notification. However, there was no consensus on this.
The state officials want additional FSI up to four as is permissible for cluster redevelopment scheme, but the MoEF officials say FSI will be restricted to 2.5 as currently allowed for all slum rehabilitation and Mhada schemes.
“The CRZ notification does not allow unrestricted FSI. This decision will be taken by the environment minister,’’ said an official present at the meeting.
The MoEF panel, however, agreed with the state government to expand the definition of buildings allowed for redevelopment.
The notification talks of ‘old and dilapidated’ and ‘cessed and unsafe’ buildings, which can be redeveloped in the CRZ areas.
The state government officials pointed out that this definition limited the number of building that can be redeveloped, so the Centre has agreed to replace ‘and’ with ‘or’ to include all four categories of buildings.
This will drastically alter the number of buildings undergoing a makeover from existing 690 buildings to over a thousand.