Mumbai FSI hike: No development in or near natural areas
MUMBAI: The move to increase the FSI for NDZ areas in the city to almost 3 is likely to face stiff opposition from environmentalists. For the first time the BMC has introducede a category for creating “reservation for social amenities”on NDZ lands. “These include building assisted living (old-age homes), rental housing for women and child care centres,” civic chief Ajoy Mehta told ETRealty (TOI).
The commissioner said mangroves and other natural areas within NDZ will be left untouched. “We have categorised them as ‘natural areas’, especially stretches which fall under the coastal regulation zone (CRZ). Absolutely, no development will be allowed in or near these enclaves,” Mehta said.
Civic sources said the controversial draft development plan introduced last year, and which was subsequently stayed by the state government following a public uproar, had selectively opened up only certain NDZ lands for development. “These would have benefitted a handful of builders and land owners. We have now allowed every NDZ land to be developed. No one can accuse us of any bias,” said sources.
In the green Aarey Milk Colony, the BMC has removed all reservations except for the metro car shed, which requires about 74 acres. The proposal for a car shed has led to strong protests from citizens and environmentalists, who plan to approach the court. The civic administration also wants to reserve 617 acres in Aarey for a zoological park. “This zoo will allow animals to roam in their natural surroundings,” said Mehta.
Meanwhile, state government officials expressed surprise that BMC should plan to develop on salt pan lands. Chief secretary Swadhin Kshatriya said any development on salt pan lands would require the concurrence and approval of the Centre.
A senior official said the state is yet to take a decision on whether to have affordable housing on salt pan lands. Except for a few disputed sites where the state has staked claim of ownership, all salt pan lands are owned by the government of India. Officials said the state government had made a proposal to the Centre seeking salt pan lands for affordable housing and even set up a committee headed by the chief secretary to prepare a master plan for salt pan lands. So far the Centre has only sought various kinds of information from the state but no policy has been framed, said an official. “There are two opinions; one, that affordable housing must be carried out on salt pan lands, and another which points to salt pans being ecologically sensitive. It is for the Centre to take a decision and unless it comes through, we cannot plan anything on these lands,” said an official.