Strict CRZ rules affect growth plans

Airoli: The City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco) is knocking on the doors of the urban development department to restart several infrastructure projects that are stuck because of stringent Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules.

The Palm Beach Road extension is one of the major projects that has been hit. Cidco had planned to construct the Palm Beach Road extension linking Koparkhairane and Airoli. Though the work is complete from the two ends, construction of a culvert in Ghansoli could not be done because of CRZ rules.

CRZ rules have also played spoilsport for the Uran-Nerul railway project, which was planned at a cost of Rs 500 crore in 2001. However, after the tsunami in 2004, the environment ministry tightened many laws, including the CRZ rules. So, the project could not take off then. Now, its cost has doubled and reached Rs 1,000 crore.

A proposal by the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) to construct an elevated road between Vashi and Airoli has also been waiting for CRZ clearance. In the absence of CRZ permission, pillars could not be constructed for the road.

"Recently, the Bombay high court suggested changing CRZ rules to make it flexible in view of the geographical position of Mumbai and Navi Mumbai. Maharashtra government has even sent a note in this regard to the Union ministry of environment and forests," said a senior NMMC official on condition of anonymity.

GS Patil, former corporator and an activist for project affected people (PAP), said several residential buildings in Airoli's sector 9 and 10A were denied occupancy certificates (OC) for violating CRZ rules. Cidco had allotted these plots to the PAP for construction. Out of the total land area, Cidco acquired 3.75% for developing roads, gutters and other basic amenities. When the construction was over, the builders were denied OC on grounds of CRZ rules. "Why did Cidco and NMMC issue commencement certificates to start the construction in the first place?" asked Patil.

Cidco managing director Sanjay Bhatia had written to the urban development department about the difficulties development projects were facing. "We hope the government takes into account the grave issues and arrives at a decision to clear the projects," said Bhatia.

However, environment activist GB Goenka opposed development projects in coastal zones. He said, "CRZ rules must be strictly adhered to by the authorities. The law has been enacted in the public interest after a lot of deliberation and its applicability cannot be ruled out. For long-term benefits, the authorities should not permit development projects in coastal zones."

CRZ rules 2011

CRZ 2011 rules are applicable up to 500 metres on the landward side of the high-tide line and up to 100 metres from high-tide line along water bodies such as estuaries that are influenced by tides

This notification included, for the first time, a regulation for the seaward side as well