MoD reimposes restrictions on redevelopment, residents shocked

ByYogesh Naik and Satish Nandgaonkar
Mar 01, 2023 01:09 AM IST

Mumbai: In a blow to redevelopment projects, the ministry of defence (MoD) has stayed the “landmark” December 23, 2022 circular which had lifted restrictions on constructions within 500 m of defence establishments

Mumbai: In a blow to redevelopment projects, the ministry of defence (MoD) has stayed the “landmark” December 23, 2022 circular which had lifted restrictions on constructions within 500 m of defence establishments. The move has shocked people stuck in stalled redevelopment projects as well as developers.

HT Image
HT Image

“It has been decided that the MoD letter under reference shall be kept in abeyance till further orders,” said a brief two-line letter issued by Sharmishta Maitra, director (lands), MoD. The directive was addressed to the chief of army, air, and navy staff and dated February 23, and cited no reasons for staying the December 23 circular.

By lifting the restrictions, the December 23, 2022 circular had given a huge boost to redevelopment projects in the vicinity of defence establishments. It had, however, clarified that constructions falling within 50 m of highly sensitive installations would continue to require an NOC from the local military authorities.

The circular had also mentioned a list of such sensitive installations, which included eight army establishments in Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Bhusawal, Kolhapur, Mumbai, Kamptee in Nagpur, Deolali in Nashik, and Pune as well as naval installations in Colaba, Malad, Ghatkopar, Mankhurd, Powai, Worli, Elephant Island in Raigad district, Kalyan, Ambernath, and Pune. The list also included three Coast Guard installations in Worli, Raigad and Palghar and two air force installations in Madh Island and Thane.

Most redevelopment projects, especially those of dilapidated buildings, were set to benefit from the circular. Hailing it as “landmark”, real estate industry sources had said that the lifting of restrictions would benefit an estimated 5,000 redevelopment projects in Mumbai alone, which had been stalled since May 2011 when, in the wake of the Adarsh and Sukna scams, the ministry had made an NOC from the local military commander mandatory for all construction projects falling within 500 metres of defence establishments.

Reacting to the development, Niranjan Hiranandani, vice-president, National Real Estate Development Council (NAREDCO), said, “we do not know why the order has been stayed. We only know that a corrected order will be issued soon.

Kanchana Rajagopal, a resident of a building in Cama Lane close to the naval installation at Ghatkopar, told HT, “I am horrified. We rejoiced after the restrictions were lifted and felicitated BJP leaders for it. The restrictions had no logic. In an era of drones, are they scared of highrises?”

Rajagopal, who participated in several protests to demand the lifting of the restrictions, said that the redevelopment of seven to eight buildings in Cama Lane, all dilapidated, was stalled. “The December 23 circular was a ray of hope,” she said. “We had started holding meetings and were thinking of cluster redevelopment. I am taken aback by today’s development.”

The office-bearer of a slum rehabilitation project said, “We are disappointed and shocked. We had started receiving lots of redevelopment proposals from developers, and we were examining how to take them forward when this news came.” The office-bearer said that the slum dwellers had first submitted a scheme to the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) in 2007, and in 2011 the SRA had issued a Letter of Intent. “We finalised a developer, and the project was about to begin when the Defence NOC restrictions came into being in 2011,” he said. “They took 12 years to be lifted. We hope that this stay is temporary, and the government will issue fresh guidelines lifting restrictions.”

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