Mumbai

Forest casts a shadow on big-ticket housing projects in Mumbai

All projects in a 10-km radius of Sanjay Gandhi National Park, with a built-up-area of 20,000 sq. m., must obtain NoC from NGT and National Wildlife Board

Several big-ticket construction projects are facing hurdles following a revised directive from the forest department limiting development around the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP). These include leading developers such as the Lodha group, Kalpataru and Tata Housing, among others, engaged in 19 major housing projects around the periphery of the SGNP. All of them will now require permission from green bodies.

The directive makes it mandatory for all projects falling in the 10-kilometre radius of the SGNP, and having a built-up-area of 20,000 square meter or more, to obtain a No Objection Certificate (NoC) from the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and the National Wildlife Board (NWB), according to senior officials from the forest department.

While the revised order, issued on October 20, 2016, is just a reiteration of the earlier directive in this regard by the NGT and NWB, it has come with specific instructions for junior engineers and town planners to implement the directive strictly.

This order will not apply to ongoing projects and is likely to impact construction projects in Thane, Goregaon, Malad and Borivali.

The order will remain until the National Board for Wildlife Protection (NBWL) issues a notification declaring fresh ‘eco-sensitive’ zones around national parks, officials said while asking builders to not panic.

“The NGT has in 2015 made it mandatory for any construction within 100 m limit of the SGNP to obtain an NoC from the tribunal. This directive has been in place for a while now but still please circulate this for implementation to all junior engineers and town planners,” reads a note from S.N. Vaghmode, forest officer of the Yeoor division. “Similar directives have been issued by offices in Borivali as well,” he told The Hindu.

Forest officials said the concerned projects are likely to be given a hearing by the department to assess their permissions. Until then their works will stand deferred for the time being. “As many as 19 major developers are awaiting clearance and we are hoping sooner or later a decision will be taken in this regard,” said a leading developer.

The fresh guidelines, officials said, has only been worded differently this time. “The essence of this rule remains the same, and we are hoping for better implementation this time as per the Supreme Court directive to maintain an eco-sensitive zone around the national parks,” a forest department official said. Similar directives, he said, have been issued on September, November and December 2015.

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 3:09:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/article15762568.ece

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