Mumbai Following Hindustan Times reports, the union environment ministry has asked the state government to probe alleged irregularities in the proposed auction of a 25,000 square metre plot of land in Navi Mumbai’s Nerul area, by the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO). The plot in question falls within the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) where construction and real estate development are regulated.
In an article published on July 15, HT quoted a CIDCO official who said how CIDCO put up a plot measuring 25,138.86 square metres (sq m) for auction in Navi Mumbai. The plot in question is expected to earn the state at least ₹350 crore, officials said. However, real estate developers claimed that it could fetch double the amount. On July 25, environmentalists and citizens formed a human chain against the auction of the plot.
Responding to complaints by environmentalists from Navi Mumbai, a scientist with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change’s (MoEFCC) CRZ division, wrote to the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) on Sunday, instructing that the “nature and extent of alleged representations in respect of the all issues be examined and a reply submitted to all applicants directly, under a copy to this Ministry.”
Earlier last month, CIDCO told HT that there was no provision in the CRZ law which prevented it from auctioning plots where CRZ rules are applicable. Priya Ratambe, CIDCO spokesperson, said, “When we raise tenders for the auction, the document specifies very clearly that the builder will have to seek the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority’s permission before they can proceed with construction. We are a planning body responsible for the development, not a regulatory authority.”
Meanwhile, most of the plot, located in adjoining sectors of 54, 56 and 58 in Nerul, falls under CRZ-II classification, referring to areas that have already been developed up to the shoreline of the coast, and where building restrictions have recently been lifted under an amendment to CRZ Notification, 2019.
“This is in itself a controversial decision and has been opposed from many corners. While this portion of the plot could be developed, the fact still remains that close to two acres are protected by CRZ-1 classification,” said Sunil Agarwal, a Navi Mumbai resident and campaigner for protection of the city’s wetlands.
Environmentalists have also maintained that CIDCO’s proposed auction impinges on the rights of the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC). The state Urban Development Department had in, September 2021, directed the NMMC to excise plots more than 500 sq mtr from its Development Plan (which is awaiting final notification). These large plots were proposed to be retained by CIDCO for further development.