The move to make public hearings mandatory for all redevelopment projects in Mumbai's coastal areas is expected to annoy the builders' lobby.
Builders feel that holding public hearings could put their redevelopment plans on the slow track. “Public hearing is a part of environment laws, but I don’t think it will bring in transparency. It can just lead to unnecessary litigation. A public hearing with project affected people seems fine, but not one open to all,” said Vimal Shah of Ackruti Group, a leading slum redeveloper in the city.
Minister of state for environment Sachin Ahir, however, defended the MoEF decision. “It may delay redevelopment, especially if some vested interests decide to hijack the process, but on the whole it will bring in transparency. Builders will also learn to be more accommodating,” said Ahir.
Under the norms, public hearings will have to be conducted by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), which will take into consideration views of all affected persons. A report of the hearing will be forwarded to the State Coastal Zone Management Authority.
A negative public hearing, where majority of the affected persons are not in favour of redevelopment, will mean no clearance for the project. Also, MPCB will have to seek written views of other stakeholders like neighbouring residents, environmentalists and consider them before granting final clearance.