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Why all eyes are on NAINA

Nov 19, 2023 05:10 PM IST

Planned 10 years ago, the Navi Mumbai Airport Influence Notified Area (NAINA) project within 25 km radius of the Navi Mumbai airport is spread over 371 sq km comprising 174 villages

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Artist impression of the project NAINA.
Artist impression of the project NAINA.

If Navi Mumbai International Airport is considered a game changer for Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) and its future growth, the NAINA region is likely to be its engine powering the growth. Envisaged initially as the largest planned city in the country, it is an ambitious urban planning project in the making with the potential for an ultra-modern city that will provide a powerful boost to all sectors of the economy, offer quality life, with a promise to take Maharashtra a notch up on the development barometer.

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Planned 10 years ago, the Navi Mumbai Airport Influence Notified Area (NAINA) project within 25 km radius of the Navi Mumbai airport is spread over 371 sq km comprising 174 villages. It does not entail the traditional land acquisition process and is expected to change the landscape of Maharashtra. The modern city close to Mumbai, will be bigger than Navi Mumbai.

Though delayed, the project is finally on track with land allotments, housing projects taking shape, infrastructure being developed and administrative measures being taken, despite many challenges along the way.

The vision

The scheme proposes land pooling by villagers wherein City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra (CIDCO), the special planning authority for the project, gets to keep 60% of the land for infrastructure development and the project affected persons (PAP) get the remaining 40% with 2.5 FSI. CIDCO does not have to pay any monetary compensation to the villagers. After taking over and developing 60% of the land, the remaining 40% is left to landowners to develop as they please (some have teamed up with builders to develop housing projects already). The belief is also that once CIDCO develops a significant slice of the land, the property price of the remaining land parcel with the owner, will grow manifold.

The area close to Mumbai and Navi Mumbai – both beyond the reach of the common man dreaming of a house -- offers opportunity for affordable housing coupled with job opportunities and excellent connectivity.

One of the highlights of the project is an inclusive housing scheme for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) and Low Income Groups (LIG), which will be developed in areas measuring 4000 sq m or more, making for 20% of the total area of the plot.

The interim development plan for 23 villages has been sanctioned by the government and CIDCO has decided to implement it through 12 Town Planning Schemes (TPS).

Speaking about the vision, Anil Diggikar, vice chairman and managing director, CIDCO, said, “NAINA will emerge as an ultra-modern city within MMR, incorporating activities related to various sectors like education, health, commerce, tourism, hospitality, etc. for all income groups.” Though it was slow to take off, CIDCO has now initiated an integrated approval management system to quickly process and allot building permissions.

Infrastructure works worth 1216 crore is being taken up, with CIDCO earlier this year floating six tenders for roads, footpaths and storm water drains. The re-tendering process is currently on following technical issues.

The work on a bridge near Devad village connecting the township with New Panvel is in the final stages. The development body is also poised to create 22 new posts of revenue and land survey officers, who will maintain land records by updating the entitlements, preparing property cards, measuring land, preparing the new maps etc.

Making new connections

As the big infrastructure projects proposed in Navi Mumbai and Raigad move towards completion over next three years, the connectivity in the region is expected to improve dramatically, opening up new sectors for development.

The Sewri-Nhava Sheva Mumbai Trans Harbour Link bridge is expected to be opened next month, while the Navi Mumbai international airport has a December 2024 deadline. Work has already started on the Panvel-Karjat rail line spanning 29.6 km with five stations and three tunnels, the deadline for which is December 2025. The 126-km Virar-Alibaug Multi Modal corridor -- an 8-10 lane expressway -- will connect far western suburbs of Mumbai, Thane and Palghar to Navi Mumbai and Alibaug in Raigad. It is expected to be completed by 2027. To align with all this connectivity, the government has plans to implement an “aerotropolis” around the Navi Mumbai airport, a portion of which will also be in the NAINA region.

However, since the decade-old plan has suffered road-blocks in the past, stakeholders have expressed frustration, some even insisting on policy changes. The uncertainty also led to illegal constructions mushrooming in the region to dupe investors. There is also a fear that the affordable housing opportunity that the region can offer could be circumvented.

Prakash Baviskar, president of NAINA Builders Welfare Association, said, “Only 40% land will be available for development, which will allow only vertical development, such as unaffordable high rises. Besides, CIDCO is levying arbitrary and exorbitant development charges which will be an additional burden on the buyers.”

Baviskar felt village-wise timelines should be fixed to implement TPS, to enable villagers to know when a project will be implemented in their area. “NAINA is the slowest development permit issuing authority. The permission process should be made faster. Single window clearance should be given for building permissions,” he added.

“The area of the remaining 152 villages is so big that it will take another 10 years for implementation. If they are not a priority now, they should be excluded from the DP and the reservations,” he said.

According to Navi Mumbai developer Rajesh Prajapati, chairman, PR committee, CREDAI-MCHI, “NAINA has proved to be a Waterloo for many developers since there was a sudden change of planning authority with little effort for a transition policy for approved and under construction projects.”

According to Prajapati, “The planners need to take a proactive and pro-development stand in favour of overall speedy and synchronised development of the entire area. Unified DCPR should be fully incorporated in the area in order to bring it at par with other lands in the vicinity for the purpose of standardization.”

Jeetu Jagwani, immediate past president, BANM CREDAI, Raigad said, “There is no doubt NAINA is a visionary project. However, the delays in implementation in the era of ease of doing business is worrying. There is a need for a transparent, accountable and time-bound approach.” For instance, he pointed out, there has been no timeline set for infrastructure development such as dams, electricity, drainage and other utilities, along with social infrastructure like education, hospitals, and other public amenities which are vital for sustainable growth.

Stated Chirag Shah, President Elect, BANM CREDAI Raigad, “Property title documentation is crucial for individuals to secure loans from financial institutions. There should be Fast-Track Property Card Issuance to recognize the new allottees. Taking control over the proliferation of illegal structures is imperative. Stringent measures and effective enforcement are necessary for it.”

Stressed Shah, “Authorities should communicate clearly with the public, addressing their concerns, and providing updates on the progress made. There is an urgent need for collaboration between government bodies, stakeholders and citizens to overcome the challenges.”

Opposition from grassroots

While developers are eyeing opportunities the huge tract of land offers, the main opposition to the plan appears to come from the grassroot level. The villagers are opposed to the scheme of land pooling sans any compensation. Farmers’ body NAINA Prakalp Badhit Shetkari Utkarsh Samiti recently staged strong protests which include a recent padyatra to Mantralaya preceded by Gaon Bandh chain protest and bike rally demanding cancellation of the NAINA scheme.

Speaking on behalf of the villagers, Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) of India leader Pritam Mhatre said, “What will we do once our land of several generations is taken away? Besides 60% is being taken away and only 40% left for us. Even after that betterment charges are being levied by CIDCO.”

Former MLC Balaram Pati said, “Farmers have been opposing the project since its inception. Nobody is against development of the region, but CIDCO cannot take away our land without paying for it. NAINA in its present form should go.”

Said Ganu Mhatre, a villager, “There is no trust in CIDCO which has cheated Navi Mumbai PAPs earlier by taking away their land paying peanuts and then earning millions from them. Several are yet to receive their compensation.”

Meanwhile, urban planners see NAINA as a historic opportunity to create equitable housing infrastructure which the policy planners should use wisely. Urban designer Jasmine Saluja, who co-authored the new book, ‘Six Metros’, comparing urban planning and implementation in six world cities, said, NAINA could be the region around Mumbai where their recommendation of Community Land Reserves (CLR) to create affordable housing could be actually implemented. Saluja and her co-authors have critiqued the Mumbai model of FSI-powered development without corresponding increase in amenities and recommended creation of CLRs by taking land off the market and reserving it specifically for affordable housing near new and existing transit grids.

Asked if NAINA could be the suitable catchment to create a CLR, Saluja said, “Yes, 40% of returned developed land could ideally be collectively re-pooled to convert into a CLR so that mixed use affordable housing supply can be maintained for perpetuity and PAP returned land is not sold in the free market to the developers.” She said the state government should examine the CLR model to create affordable housing.

Meanwhile, the housing department is working on a new policy which will focus on affordable housing, senior and student living; the draft of the policy is expected to be released in December.

For now, with CIDCO’s allocation of plots, infrastructure work and ease of business measures for faster processing of applications, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. The journey has, however, just begun and the faster it is completed with all stakeholders on board, the higher will be the success of the project.

The future city

Sustainable city for all income groups with residential, integrated township projects, commercial, mixed use, industrial and warehousing, urban village, theme based educational, entertainment and other world class infrastructure and civic facilities which are environment friendly.

Smart Theme city concept - Med City, Sport city, Knowledge city, Port city, Research and Development zone, Eco-tourism, Recreational, Film city etc. that will attract national and international investments.

CIDCO will construct roads, schools, hospitals, playgrounds, gardens, growth centres, water and sewage treatment plants.

It can be accessed through Mumbai-Pune e-way and other highways, there will be a multi-modal corridor apart from Navi Mumbai International Airport, railways and metro service to facilitate growth and development of business and economic projects.

Guidelines from the UDCPR are being adopted to facilitate the ease of doing business in the area.

There is a promise of employment opportunities.

Minimum 45 feet wide roads

10% open space and 5% amenity for common use

23 NAINA villages

Adai, Akurli, Belavali, Bonshet, Borle, Chikhale Raichur, Chipale, Derawali, Devad, Kolkhe, Kon, Koproli, Moho, Nere, Palaspe, PaliKh, Palidevad, Sangade, Shilottar, Shivkar, Usarlikh, Vichumbe, Vihighar.

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