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CRZ and Slum Rehabilitation – The Legal Logjam
The CRZ Notification of 1991 was a revolutionary measure to protect the country’s coastline from degradation. It demarcated a ‘Coastal Regulation Zone’ and imposed numerous restrictions on industrial activities. The Notification also froze the FSI available in CRZ areas at the pre-1991 levels, thereby depriving developers of benefits conferred by the new DC Regulations of 1991.

The FSI cap imposed by the CRZ Notification of 1991 did little to alleviate the woes of slum dwellers residing in over 270 pockets in CRZ areas. Consequently, the CRZ Notification of 2011 was issued. Para 8 of the 2011 notification enhanced the permissible FSI in respect of (i) Slum Rehabilitation Projects and (ii) Redevelopment of Dilapidated Structures.

Unfortunately Para 8 of the CRZ Notification was fundamentally flawed in as much as it imposed 51% Public Private Partnership on Slum Rehabilitation Projects but left out those projects pertaining to redevelopment of Tenanted and Cessed Buildings. This had a retrograde effect on Slum Rehabilitation Schemes going on in CRZ II areas as not a single proposal came forth expressing interest in the PPP model.

The impugned Para 8 also violates Article 300A of the Constitution of India as it infringes on the right to property of the developer undertaking the project. Further the share of the state has been fixed at 51% irrespective of the value of the underlying land. This creates an economically untenable situation for any developer redeveloping a slum.

Para 8 also violates Article 14 of the Constitution of India as it arbitrarily imposes 51 % PPP on rehabilitation projects of slums but excludes redevelopment of dilapidated and cessed structures from its scope. The absence of rationale or reason for this selection further adds to its arbitrariness.

Since the impugned Para is currently the subject of an on-going writ petition in the High Court, it would be unwise to give a detailed commentary on its legalities. Nevertheless, the bludgeoning nature of India’s population requires balance to be struck between the environment and housing demands of a billion people. Timely action by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, New Delhi to amend the CRZ Notification and allow higher FSI in CRZ areas will go a long way in ensuring quality housing for millions of slum dwellers in the city of Mumbai.

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