Real estate developers have condemned the recent order of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), which makes public hearing mandatory for all redevelopment projects across the coastal areas.
They said this would delay projects and cause hardships to both the developers and residents. “The ministry has no idea of how the real estate industry in Mumbai functions and is framing rules according to its whims and fancies,” said Anand Gupta, secretary, Builders Association of India, the apex body of the construction industry. “Public hearings would only worsen the scene,” Gupta said. He called it a classic case of discrimination with regards to the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) areas.
For years, stringent rules in the CRZ — areas within 500m of the coastline, which covers 46% of the city — had been deprived of redevelopment schemes. In January this year, the MoEF had eased tough regulations in the city to ensure reconstruction of old dilapidated buildings and slums dotting these areas, with the condition that the state holds a majority stake in these projects.
“We fear that it would result in bureaucratic delays and the project may suffer,” said Mayank Gandhi, secretary of Remaking of Mumbai Federation, the organisation that had been lobbying for easing of the CRZ norms for years. He said that some mechanism should be framed to ensure that genuine doubts are cleared and time limit fixed to ensure speedy implementation of the project.
The MoEF has also mandated that mega projects more than 4.9 acres falling in the CRZ should go through the public consultation process.
Environmentalists said the authorities should remain firm on such hearings. “Public hearing is a positive thing as the people will get a chance to place objections which is not the case currently,” said environmental activist Debi Goenka.