Waking up to the number of irregularities in private projects, the state government has now decided keep a check on whether private developers are misusing special powers granted to them.
For mega projects like Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and hill stations, the state government allows private developers to act as special planning authorities (SPA) of that region giving them wide ranging powers to clear all development work, building permissions in their project areas. This means that a private developer can play the role of the civic body or government agencies like Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA).
This is now proving to be controversial with reports of misuse of such powers and critics pointing to a conflict of interest.
Now, the urban development department has written to the Director of Town Planning to verify whether all building permissions and development approvals granted by such authorities in their projects have been as per government norms. If not, the state will take action against erring developers.
Sources in the government said currently there were four such special planning authorities in the state, including one at the Lavasa project.
In 2008, the state in a bid to promote Special Economic Zones and accelerate industrial development, had decided to give powers to project developers to act as planning authorities in that region. Similarly, the state’s hill station development policy of 1996 allowed the setting up of a SPA to sanction all development in the region.
“There have been concerns expressed about the functioning of these private authorities and the state has now directed the town planning director to ensure all building permissions have been granted as per approved development control rules,” said senior urban development department official.
He said under the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act, the state can review approvals granted by private developers in these projects but on the ground this was rarely done.