Maharashtra's UD department plans to relax CRZ rules
In what is being seen as an anti-environment move, the Maharashtra urban development department has proposed to relax Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules. The file was cleared on February 1 by chief minister Ashok Chavan who holds the urban development portfolio. “We will convey our views to the Centre, though our environment department may have some contradictory views,’’ said an urban development department official. The Centre had proposed that the Coastal Management Zone (CMZ) would replace the CRZ but, due to opposition from various quarters, it lapsed. The Centre then said that the CRZ would continue and the state government demanded special concessions for Mumbai. A senior official of the urban development department said, “As such, one is required to maintain a distance of 500 m from the High Tide Line (HTL), but we have proposed that this should not be sacrosanct. The distance can be 25 or 50 metres depending on vulnerability.’’ At present, there are a lot of curbs to develop slum rehabilitation schemes, the urban development (UD) department has asked the Centre to allow SRA schemes and ones under Section 33 (9) of the DC regulations. The UD has also asked for more FSI in CRZ areas. But an official in the environment department said that if such a thing was approved by the Centre, then it would result in mayhem and builders would grab prime sea-facing plots. Environmentalist Rishi Agarwal of Mangrove Society of India said, “Even with laws around to protect coastal areas, I can give many examples where several buildings have come up within 50 metres from the HTL.