State plans to redevelop 290 slum clusters in CRZ area, windfall for builders
The Maharashtra government plans to redevelop 290 slum clusters in Mumbai affected by Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ)-II regulations, potentially freeing up 188.66 hectares of land for development. The government has approached the central government for permission and the ministry of environment has asked for an environmental cost-benefit analysis to be conducted. The study will assess the impact of the redevelopment on the city's infrastructure and environment. The move could benefit builders and has raised concerns about slumlords encroaching on CRZ areas.
MUMBAI: Around 188.66 hectares of land could be freed up for development in the city if the Maharashtra government has its way. The government plans to redevelop around 290 slum clusters that are part of Mumbai’s coastline and are affected by the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ)-II regulations, and has approached the central government for permission to do this.
The ministry of environment, forest and climate clearance (MoEFCC) has agreed to seriously consider the state’s proposal and has asked it to conduct an environmental cost-benefit analysis. The study will determine the number of slums that could not be developed because of CRZ rules all these years and their impact on the city. It will also ascertain the impact of this proposed redevelopment on the city’s existing infrastructure and environment.
Satish Lokhande, CEO of the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA), confirmed that MoEFCC had asked for these details, and said that the SRA had issued a tender to appoint a consultant for the study. “The agency shall study all declared and notified slum pockets affected by CRZ rules in Mumbai. It shall carry out spatial analysis of the GIS database of the slums affected by coastal rules, with all required attributes of information such as number of hutments in the slums, their provisions in the development plan, the area and existing infrastructure facilities among others,” states a tender document issued by the SRA.
The consultant has been asked to compare the existing impact and post-development impact on Mumbai’s basic infrastructure such as water supply, sewage, solid waste disposal and management, roads and traffic in surrounding areas, environment, and public transportation among others, said an SRA official. Likewise, the agency also has to determine the benefits arising out of the development of slums including direct and indirect, tangible and intangible benefits and socio-economic benefits.
A senior official from the state environment department said the department had been following up the issue of coastal slum redevelopment with the environment ministry since 2018. “Recently, environment ministry officials also had a meeting with senior state officials where the issue was discussed in detail,” he said.
The move means a bonanza for builders—who have always been the prime beneficiaries of SRA projects—since 467 acres of prime land will open up for development. “This will be a windfall for builders,” said urban planner Pankaj Kapoor, who is the managing director of real estate consultancy Liases Foras. “Since the new development will come up on the seaside, it will open the doors to a very expensive market of luxury and ultra-luxury houses. But if the state wants to rehabilitate slum dwellers, there is no other option as it is a landlocked city and also facing a problem of affordability.”
The government’s move could turn controversial on another count. There have been allegations that slumlords have been encroaching on areas that fall under CRZ, and now all of them will get a legal cover to build residential buildings in the garb of slum redevelopment.
One of the projects stuck due to CRZ regulations for over 20 years is the redevelopment of the Mariamma Nagar slum pocket to the north and east of Nehru Centre in Worli. Spread over 20,500 square metres and comprising 1,500 tenements, the Mariamma Nagar slum rehab was cleared after a Bombay high court judgment in October 2022 which clarified that slum rehab projects were never excluded from CRZ II areas in the 2019 CRZ notification.
The ruling paved the way for redevelopment of “landward” side slum schemes, and the slum is now being redeveloped by Akshaya Sthapatya Pvt Ltd which won the case. Similarly, another “landward” side slum pocket Jijamata Nagar, spread across 16 acres from Love Grove junction on Annie Besant Road in Worli to E Moses Road, is being redeveloped by DB Realty and the Prestige Group.
“While landward side slums can now be redeveloped after CRZ relaxations, the seaward side slums have not been allowed to develop, as the MoEFCC wants to understand how their development could impact civic infrastructure and environment. The cost-benefit analysis is being done to assess this,” said a developer.
The developer pointed out that Mumbai’s coastline, extending from the western suburbs to Colaba, has several seaside slums where there is no road between the slums and the sea. “A large cluster of such seaward slums is behind Ceejay House in Worli and the fishing village around the Worli fort,” he said. “Then there are the slums in Juhu Koliwada, Mahim and the Bandra coast.” Whether all this land will be opened up for development will be determined once the study is completed.”
Inputs by Satish Nandgaonkar