MMRDA Reworking Proposal To Develop Salt Pan For Affordable Housing
Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is reworking a proposal to develop salt pan land in the city after the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests revised the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules to exclude them from the category of wetlands.
The government proposes to use the land for affordable housing projects in the city. MMRDA’s initial survey in 2016 had revealed that barely 25 acres of the 5,379 acres of salt pan land in the city were developable.
A proposal was submitted to the government based on the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010. But now the rules have been revised and they are preparing a new proposal based on the Wetland Rules, 2017. Under the new rules, salt pan lands have been exempted and development activities are allowed there.
While the Wetland Rules, 2010, did not make any special exemption for salt pan lands across the country, the 2017 Rules specifically exclude them from the definition of wetlands.
“Wetland” is an area of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water, the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres, but does not include river channels, paddy fields, human-made water bodies/tanks specifically constructed for drinking water purposes and structures specifically constructed for aquaculture, salt production, recreation and irrigation purposes,” read the Wetland Rules, 2017.
The MMRDA was tasked by the government to prepare a master plan for the use of salt pan land in Mumbai for affordable housing. But the MMRDA’s initial report in 2016 revealed that barely 25 acres of the 5,379 acres of salt pan land in the city were developable.
The new report can be prepared only after the state government notifies the wetlands in the state as directed by the 2017 Rules, as these areas will have to be excluded from the master plan that the MMRDA is expected to submit to the state government.
The salt pan lands in the city are eco-sensitive areas and play a very important role as floodplains. During the 2005 floods, the eastern suburbs were relatively less affected compared to the western suburbs, and that is due to the presence of these lands and the mangroves that absorb the floodwaters. Also, they are intertidal zones and in many of the abandoned salt pan lands, mangroves tend to grow back. They also provide an important habitat for marine species and birds.
Source Link- http://indianexpress.com/.