CRZ Norms Relaxation for Mumbai Pragmatic: Jairam



 Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh today said the new Coastal Regulation Zone norms for Mumbai, which facilitate development of dilapidated buildings, slums and Koliwadas (fishermen colonies), are pragmatic and practical.

"After a long gap, we have recognised the unique characteristics of Mumbai, the only island city we have... We need to have pragmatic and practical CRZ and that is what we have provided," Ramesh said giving details of special provisions for the city in new CRZ norms to reporters here.

"After 20 years, we have modified Coastal Regulation Zone norms and a special chapter was introduced for Greater Mumbai which would allow redevelopment of 146 slum clusters, 620 dilapidated and unsafe buildings, having total population of five-six lakhs," Ramesh said.

Also, for the first time, redevelopment of dilapidated and cessed buildings and slums in CRZ even by a private builder has been brought under the purview of Right to Information Act. Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) would conduct an assessment of such redevelopments, Ramesh said.

After having three rounds of discussions with the representatives of fishermen community, the Ministry declared 38 Koliwads here as falling under CRZ-III instead of earlier CRZ-II so that no one other than the fishermen could redevelop it, Ramesh said.

"The Koliwadas have been declared under CRZ-III which means no-development-zone except by the fishermen themselves," the minister said.

Ramesh also said that "we are notifying large open spaces, parks and play grounds for Mumbai under CRZ-III" which will prohibit development in these areas. 

"Redevelopment of slums is only permitted to those institutes having 51 per cent of the state Government partnership. The dilapidated structures, chawls can have redevelopment by a private player but RTI would be applicable. Also CAG would conduct an audit to ensure eviction is not taking place and laws are not (being) flouted," Ramesh said.

Constructions in CRZ will have the same 2.5 Floor Space Index as those in non-coastal parts of the city, thus making FSI uniform everywhere, Ramesh said.

"The no-development-zone is being reduced from 200 metres from the high-tide line to 100 metres only to meet the increased demand of housing of fishermen and other traditional coastal communities," the minister said.

Ramesh said that he was going to write to all the state governments to conduct satellite imaging of the structures in coastal areas within four months to find out violation of earlier CRZ norms.

"The new CRZ norms would not be applicable for the structures which have violated old norms. I request the states to conduct violation-investigations of the earlier norms with help of satellite imaging," Ramesh said.

Ramesh termed the special provisions for Mumbai as 'liberalisation with safeguards' such as RTI and CAG audits.

"It is a liberalisation as far as Mumbai is concerned but guarded and safeguarded with checks like RTI," the environment minister said.

Defending the decision to relax CRZ norms for the city, Ramesh said, "I was in a dilemma. On one hand, CRZ 1991 was choking Mumbai, on the other hand if we liberalise, we have to be little careful. We introduced (these) safeguards for Mumbai alone."

The new CRZ also provides for a monitoring committee of the Centre and the State to carry out 'concurrent' audit of redevelopment of chawls in the island city, Ramesh said.

Bracing up for attack on the new rules by environmentalists, Ramesh said that Mumbai needed the change.

"They (environmentalists) would say I have capitulated before builder lobby but I have not. This (relaxation) is recognition of special needs of the city considering enormous demographic and development pressure on Mumbai," he said.