CHIEF MINISTER Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday said that a no-objection letter from the state environment department was obtained before granting an in-principle approval for surveying and giving a cadastral survey number to the foreshore portion on Nepeansea Road.
But the same no-objection letter itself makes it clear that the said portion was not developable. “As per the Mumbai Coastal Zone Management Plan, the said area is abutting the high tide line. It is next to the sea. As per the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms, 2011, no construction or development is permissible on it,” stated the department’s note, which was approved by Principal Secretary (Environment) Anil Diggikar.
On November 3, 2018, the state’s revenue authorities had approached the environment department seeking its views on the proposal, after the office of the settlement commissioner had sought to examine the impact of the move on the shoreline, the coastal environment, and the CRZ on the whole.
Official documents obtained under the Right to Information Act show that the environment department submitted its opinion in this regard on January 19, 2019. “No slum rehabilitation project can be undertaken on the portion. It is a no-development area. Even generation of floor space index on this land is not permissible. All we have said is that the portion can be surveyed and a cadastral survey number can be given on the condition that no construction or development can be carried out.”
When contacted, Diggikar said that the department’s opinion was clear in this regard.
Rajesh Jain, partner, DLPL Infrastructure LLP, which had approached the government for the portion’s survey, however, said that his firm plans to undertake in-situ slum redevelopment on the land.
“About 100 families have been residing on the property since 1985. We’ve been appointed by their proposed redevelopment society as developers for in-situ redevelopment and have submitted a scheme to the Slum Rehabilitation Authority for a composite rehabilitation and sale building on the site,” said Jain.
“As far as the law permits us, we plan to carry out development on site,” he added while claiming that the plot was situated on the landward side of the High Tide Line (HTL).
Fadnavis, meanwhile, said that the “developability of the land parcel will be subject to CRZ laws and Mumbai’s development control regulations”.
Jain claimed that a number of court cases had been filed in past for the eviction of the slumdwellers, but a state-appointed high-powered committee, following one such court ruling, had earlier said that the “possibility of in-situ rehabilitation of the slum dwellers could be explored”.
While claiming that in the past that the SRA had even approved projects on portions without insisting on the cadastral survey (CS) number, Jain claimed that the government had similarly surveyed slum portions of other reclaimed foreshore portions and given these CS numbers as well.