Solitary Mangrove Tree Does Not Require Buffer Zone, Says Bombay HC; Allows Additional Construction

Solitary Mangrove Tree Does Not Require Buffer Zone, Says Bombay HC; Allows Additional Construction

The Bombay HC has directed the NMMC to grant permission to two housing societies in Nerul to construct additional floors using their available Floor Space Index.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Saturday, January 20, 2024, 04:44 PM IST
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Bombay HC | File

Barred for years from adding floors to their buildings, two housing societies in Nerul will now be able to undertake the extension using their available floor space index (FSI) after seeking permission from the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC). 

Buildings are within 50mt buffer zone of mangroves, according to MCZMA 

As per the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) rules, the buildings are within the 50mt buffer zone of mangroves. The societies, however, claimed that there is one solitary mangrove tree at a distance of 48.2 mt from one of the plots. The societies said they don't want to remove the tree but noted that the 50mt buffer zone around a solitary tree is not only irrational and arbitrary but also contrary to plain common sense. However, when denied a NOC, they approached the Bombay High Court, which observed that a solitary mangrove tree does not require a buffer zone of 50mt. 

The court remarked that it failed to understand how additional floors on existing buildings cannot be allowed only because the construction would somehow "pose a deathly peril to this one tree". The judges agreed with the societies, saying that the public authorities, including the NMMC, are routinely engaged in mega projects and sought the court's permission to destroy acres and acres of mangroves, citing an "overriding public interest". 

Court called the civic body's demand for NOC from MCZMA as 'bizarre'

Directing the NMMC to issue a development permission and commencement certificate to the petitioners, the court termed the civic body's demand for NOC from MCZMA as "bizarre" and said that the coastal authority's approval was unjustified and uncalled for.

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