Reduce CRZ for east coast, says MbPT

Looking to transform the city’s eastern waterfront, the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) wants to reduce the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) for areas under its purview to 100m from the high tide line, from the current 500m, on the grounds that the area “is fronting the bay and not the sea”.
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Updated on Jan 23, 2020 07:06 AM IST
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Looking to transform the city’s eastern waterfront, the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) wants to reduce the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) for areas under its purview to 100m from the high tide line, from the current 500m, on the grounds that the area “is fronting the bay and not the sea”.

The MbPT plans to revamp the waterfront from Colaba to Haji Bunder, with commercial complexes, affordable housing, promenades and open spaces. According to the port authorities, the MbPT has sought modification in the draft Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) 2019 for Mumbai, which is currently open for public scrutiny. The proposal was discussed in the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority’s (MCZMA) meeting in December. The MCZMA will now refer the proposal to the Central government’s ministry of forest, environment and climate change.

A senior planner from MbPT, who did not wish to be named, said, “The modification will certainly benefit MbPT in its eastern waterfront revamp. Right now, we are restricted as the CZMP maps wrongly defined the areas as part of the sea.”

The MbPT has contended that according to a study by the department of ocean engineering, IIT Madras, the eastern waterfront abutting the MbPT land is a bay and not a sea. According to the new CRZ 2019 norms, development along a sea front is restricted to 500m from the high tide line and along the bay to 50m. It allows a floor space index (FSI) – ratio of developed area to the plot area – as per the regulations of the town planning authority for the area. The MbPT, which is a special planning authority for the eastern waterfront, had proposed a gross FSI varying between 1 and 4 for residential and commercial development in its draft proposal. It is under revision now.

Gopal Chiplunkar, a member of the Practicing Engineers Architects and Town Planners Association, said, “The area between Colaba and Alibaug can be called a sea front, but the east coast is protected, it is where ship building and repair activities are undertaken, therefore, it cannot be classified as a sea front.” Chiplunkar has also filed an objection to the CZMP maps. “We have been objecting to defining these areas as sea for two years now,” another MbPT official said. MbPT has also stated that the Indira docks at Mazagaon and the other bunders (docks) are artificial water bodies that should not be considered as the basis to make the change.

Urban planners and environment activists, however, have different views. Debi Goenka, an environment activist, said, “Now that the Central government has relaxed the norms for bay areas, the MbPT is looking to circumvent CRZ and gain 400m extra for construction.” Pankaj Joshi, executive director of the Urban Design Research Institute, said, “Regardless of the MbPT’s intentions, it is unfair to categorise the areas falling under its purview as sea.”

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Saturday, January 22, 2022