New CRZ to change Mumbai skyline

The new guidelines are expected to boost construction  activities in the near future.

The new Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) 2011 brings cheer to nearly five lakh slum dwellers of Mumbai with scope for a facelift for old buildings in the swarming west Indian metropolis, the skyline of which is all set for a sea change.

The new CRZ notification allows redevelopment of slum clusters, which are located on the western coastal belt from Colaba in the south to Dahisar of Mumbai, and will give a huge push for construction activity in near future.

Union Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh specially flew down to Mumbai on Saturday to explain the new CRZ notification, which has a special chapter for Greater Mumbai and makes several provisions for redevelopment of housing colonies along the coast, though with safeguards. Addressing a joint news conference with Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Ramesh said there were 146 slum clusters with 47,000 families living there, and 620 dilapidated, unsafe and cessed structures with 38,000 families in them. These colonies are falling within the CRZ limits and the 1991 notification had made their redevelopment next to impossible. The importance of the new CRZ can be guaged from the fact that out of the 437 sq kms area of Mumbai, nearly 202 sq kms is impacted by the CRZ, which is 46.03 per cent of the total area of the metropolis.

After numerous rounds of discussions and gauging the uniqueness of Mumbai, the only island city of the country, the environment ministry modified norms for these colonies in the CRZ 2011 to benefit over five lakh people.

But Ramesh was conscious of the land sharks and builders, who can grab any opportunity to make profits. So several safeguards have been incorporated in the new norms. The special safeguards for Mumbai’s coast make it mandatory for any agency or company engaged in redevelopment to have 51 per cent stake of the state government. That makes the entire redevelopment of slums a state-controlled activity.

“The slum redevelopment, therefore, will be subject to the CAG audit and the Right to Information Act (RTI),” Ramesh said. In case of old and dilapidated cessed buildings, they can either be redeveloped on their own or outsourced to builders, but in their case too, the RTI will be applicable.

“It is a unique situation, where private activity has been brought under the purview of RTI... The entire idea is that no eviction (of inhabitants) should happen in slums or chawls, as had happened in the past,” Ramesh said.
Floor space index
A major decision was regarding the floor space index (FSI). So far, these colonies in the CRZ limits have 1.3 FSI, while outside the coastal region, the FSI is 2.5 and in some areas it is even 4. Ramesh said the slums and cessed buildings in the CRZ limits would be granted 2.5 FSI henceforward, to make their redevelopment lucrative and practical.

 The new norms also provide for construction of roads along the coast. However, these will have to be built on stilts to allow free flow of tidal water. 

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