NAINA Delayed: Why Are Navi Mumbai Builders Blaming CIDCO?

Navi Mumbai is seeing a war of words between developers and development agency CIDCO. Developers allege that CIDCO is deliberately going slow in granting permission and approvals in time for the ambitious NAINA project. On the other hand, the agency claims that developers are trying to cut corners and aren’t following the rules.

NAINA: 251 Proposals, Only 29 Approvals

At 560 sq. kilometers, the Navi Mumbai Airport Influence Notified Area or NAINA is bigger than Mumbai. When announced 2 years ago, it was expected to give a major boost to affordable housing in the region. But since then, there has been little progress with developers in Navi Mumbai accusing CIDCO of deliberately going slow on approvals.

“Our main concern is that the chief objective of Govt of Maharashtra to give affordable housing for all is being disrespected by some of the officers of NAINA. This has resulted in non availability of housing stock free of cost in PPP models. We have made all the payment of fire charges & scrutiny fee in lakhs to CIDCO & have all NOCs of relevant department. Yet, we have been struggling since last 3 years to get approvals.” complains Ashok Chhajer, chairman and managing director of Arihant Superstructures

As per data put up by CIDCO on its website, a total of 251 proposals have been received by the agency for NAINA, out of which only 29 have been cleared and another 41 have been sent to different agencies for further action. That’s only about 12% of the total number of applications the agency has received.

“In 3 years, 29 approvals came out. If this goes on, then by 2017, another 6 or 7 approvals will come about. Is that all we need if we have to build 11 lakh houses by 2022. Why are there so many rejections? Out of 251 applications, only 29 have been approved, No other organization in India has rejected so many applications. Why?” asks Rajesh Prajapati, managing director of Prajapati Constructions

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CIDCO Claims Proposals Are Flawed

Why indeed? NDTV spoke exclusively to V Venugopal of CIDCO about the agency’s low percentage of approvals. He defended the numbers, claiming that the vast majority of the proposals did not conform to the National Building Code (NBC).

“We are trying to do justice and bring NBC into the equation and ensure standards are maintained. At least 2 to 3 times, I have called the developers to come up for discussion and to come up with targeted cases which they think is stuck for administrative reasons. I am ready to do give it an extra push and clear it if the delay is because of administrative reasons, but I will not compromise if the regulations are to be tampered.” says a defiant V Venugopal, additional chief planner at CIDCO

That’s not all. Real estate experts claim much of the mess in NAINA at the moment is due to overlapping clearances issued by different agencies. The new DCR for NAINA has not been approved as yet, and most existing projects are operating under clearances from the MMRDA which used to be in charge of the area. Developers do not want to keep reworking their plans just because the governing authority has changed. But CIDCO is justified in asking for strict adherence to NBC norms, since most development here will be high-density housing where safety and comfort cannot be compromised.

The government should intervene and see if there is a middle ground where both parties can meet and sort this mess out. The new DCR for NAINA is going to go to the Chief Minister very soon, and once it is approved – the project will start picking up pace. The CM should resolve this issue before that happens in order to ensure NAINA’s smooth functioning.

Nikhil Narayan Sivadas, Assistant Editor, NDTV


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