Environmentalist Rishi Agarwal said the relaxation of building norms in coastal zones is an opportunity to adopt good planning practices.
Won’t the new rule allow harmful construction?
There have to be area studies with different urban designs. Some areas could even be given no relaxation at all. These areas will need to be intelligently planned, taking into account the best urban planning practices. You can’t give into greed and short-term interests.
Could you elaborate?
Singapore has done good work with public housing even after demolishing two-acre cluster homes. Our government talks about turning Mumbai into Singapore and Shanghai without knowing how these places got to where they are. We need a visionary leader who loves the city and is not greedy.
Will there be an environmental impact of large-scale construction?
Housing is a genuine need and there should be no conflict with the environment. Environmental impact will depend on the carrying capacity of those areas. There are cities across the world that achieved high densities without impacting the ecology. This should be seen as an opportunity to build green buildings and adopt best practices for waste disposal and energy consumption.
Will there be a conflict between the old and the new world for gaothans and koliwadas?
No. If it’s about managing heritage structure, then the owners can be given the right incentives so they are not at a loss and heritage can also be preserved. It’s all about a good carrot-and-stick policy.