With the new coastal regulatory zone norms lifting vertical restrictions on nearly 46% of the city, Mumbai has got a fresh lease for redevelopment. But, it remains to be seen whether this liberalisation will allow for rehabilitation to the deserving or just provide an unbridled scope for developers.
The state government will now set up a company, a special purpose body on the lines of the defunct Shiv Shahi Punarvasan Prakalp (SSPL) to initiate redevelopment of 146 slum clusters along the coast.
The new CRZ notification calls for 51% stake by public agencies to redevelop slums.
“We will set up a company on the lines of SSPL. As our stake, we will offer our share of FSI or the cost of land to the 49% stake by private developers,” said Sachin Ahir, minister of state for environment.
The public stake has been insisted upon by the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) to bring these projects under the scrutiny of the Comptroller and Auditor General, Right to Information Act and monitoring by a high-level committee.
“If safeguards are not put in place, then slum dwellers and residents of dilapidated buildings will be evicted and huge high-rises will come up instead,’’ Ramesh said.
The redevelopment of 602 dilapidated buildings in the island city has been left to individual owners.
Currently, Floor Space Index for redevelopment is limited to 2.5 for both old buildings and slums, but the government has been given scope to hike this in the future.
One of the biggest gainers of the new CRZ norms are fisherfolk through the redevelopment of 38 koliwadas. The earlier restriction of 200 metres has been reduced to 100 metres from the shore. But, redevelopment has been restricted to the fishing community’s needs – homes and small fishing platforms – commercial exploitation is barred.
Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said, “Development will be carried out with responsibility taking care of environmental concerns.”
Urban planner VK Phatak, however, said he was not sure whether this kind of development could be dictated by environmental legislation.
“If coastal areas in the city are already dense and there will be no ecological harm in redevelopment, why restrict FSI? Anyway, such redevelopment should be decided by town planning norms and not environmental laws,” Phatak said.
Anticipating criticism from the green lobby, Ramesh said, “Environmentalists will say I am favouring builders, but it was done considering the special needs of the city that is buffeted by water on all sides.”