The Centre provided uninterrupted access to green zones and no-development zones to promote development of affordable housing under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (PMAY).

Development within green zones and no-development zones (NDZs) has been approved as an allowance to foster inexpensive residential development. The state is eyeing to build 19.4 lakh affordable houses by year 2022 on the lines of the central scheme PMAY.

Whilst the Floor Space Index (FSI)—the ratio that determines the area of a plot that can be used to build green zones and NDZ has been fixed at 1, for other areas it is 2.5.

In January 2018, the Centre came out with a policy detailing eight models through which affordable housing is to be carried out.

In the same way, the state housing department released a Government Resolution (GR) on January 18, replicating the policy. In addition to cataloging the numerous models, the state GR also lists certain allowances offered by the government, inclusive of construction in green zones and NDZs.

Mantralaya officials confirmed that inexpensive housing will be permitted in green zones and NDZs, if the development control rules of the local urban body have provisions for it.

“In Aarey Colony, which is a green zone, we have marked an area for relief and rehabilitation of tribals on the request of the forest department,” said a senior civic official. For relief and rehabilitation, the FSI is 4.

In the same way, on governmental, semi-governmental and likewise authority land within NDZ, the FSI permitted is 3 for inexpensive housing, as long as it is an adjoining four-hectare plot. The carpet area for apartments is 30 square metres (300 square feet) for economically backward sections, 45 sq. m (450 sq. ft.) for low-income groups and 60 sq. m (600 sq. ft.) for middle-income groups.

Mumbai’s NDZs comprises salt pan estates and the BMC has underlined approximately 600 acres of these for affordable residential real estate. This, even as an MMRDA report in 2016 said that hardly 25 acres of such land can be cultivated.

State housing functionaries said not one of the central government enterprises that possess land in Mumbai had provided land for the PMAY.

“Several central government agencies own huge tracts of land in Mumbai. We have written to all of them requesting that they give extra land for the inexpensive housing scheme. No one has replied to the requisition and quite a few have already written back saying they have no surplus land,” said an official.

The officer moreover said that green zones do not comprise forests and mangroves but do comprise farming land. Aarey Colony, which has been pronounced as a green belt, has a reservation for alleviation and betterment of tribals who are residents of Aarey.

Aarey is also an Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) close to Sanjay Gandhi National Park. Roughly 165 hectares of the colony have been expelled from the ESZ.

The state government, in its maiden transformation to the Draft Development Plan 2034, excluded 33 hectares from the green zone for the Metro-III car depot. Whilst 30 hectares are for the metro car depot, the government has said there will be no economic abuse of the three hectares being used for a molding yard. It, nevertheless, has not elucidated whether housing will be permitted on this plot.

NGO Vanashakti, which has been struggling for Aarey to be preserved as a forest, has professed that the casting yard is being intended to be used for residential development. “The floor space index allowed in case of a metro is 3 and which can be increased to 5 if it is an IT park,” said D Stalin, director conservation, Vanashakti.

P K Das, designer and town strategist, said that development in green belts and NDZs refutes the Prime Minister’s pledge to the Paris climate change accord.

“There is no shortage of land and development potential in the city. Allowing construction in these areas is destructive and kills the environment,” he said.

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