Mumbai to benefit as MoEF actively considering relaxation of CRZ restrictions

Mumbai(dna): The environment ministry, that is in the process of reviewing the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification, 2011, is looking at relaxing some of its existing restrictions and reclassify certain categories of structures falling in CRZ-III to aid their development, said a high-placed ministry official privy to developments. The ministry has taken up this consideration in sync with recommendations of the Shailesh Nayak-headed high-level committee that was constituted last year to suggest amendments to CRZ.

The committee included Nayak, secretary, ministry of earth sciences, five environment ministry officials and one coastal ecology expert. The committee, that submitted their report in March, was formed to look into the demands of coastal states to relax CRZ norms to allow seafront developments and projects.

According to the high-placed ministry official, the ministry is taking a cautious approach but is ‘positive’ on changing certain restrictions, especially for development in Mumbai. “We have tried to derestrict some of the earlier restrictions imposed. The issue of redevelopment of dilapidated structures in Mumbai has to be aided and the notification may provide relaxation for such projects.” The official added, “We may also reclassify Gaothans as CRZ-II from the existing CRZ-III classification.”

CRZ-III areas are those areas that are relatively undisturbed also include rural and urban areas that are not substantially developed while CRZ-II are the areas which are developed up to or close to the shoreline and fall within municipal limits. Many Gaothans, or old squat colonies of Koli and East Indian community are part of the city’s heritage and face bureaucratic hurdles while repairing or altering their structures.

Environment minister Prakash Javadekar had said last week that the Centre will not make any changes to the high-tide line and low-tide line. When dna sought a comment from Javadekar on the possible changes in reclassifying structures, he refuted any such consideration and said, “Regarding the revamping of CRZ, we have received the Shailesh Nayak committee report and it is under examination.”

Echoing Prakash Javadekar’s comment on the high-tide line and low-tide line, the ministry official said, “In cases such as Mumbai, whose coastal ecology is already fragile, we have to take extra care while amending the CRZ notification. We are keeping in view the existing congestion of the city and haphazard development and hence moving cautiously.”