Mumbai has long been on the path to environmental disaster, but a string of recent developments in Maharashtra indicate that both the state and its capital city might be heading there faster.

Last week, the state government gave environmental clearance to a hill station project in a no-construction zone of the Western Ghats, while the Supreme Court gave official sanction to redefine Mumbai’s coastline, which could lead to a burst of development close the city’s shore.

Meanwhile, new chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has expressed his eagerness to speed up licenses and clearances for industries in general, and is particularly keen to have the mid-sea Shivaji memorial statue erected as soon as possible.

Here are some of the latest decisions in Maharashtra that could have a lasting impact on the state’s ecology.

Mulshi hill station: On November 20, Maharashtra’s State Environment Impact Assessment Authority granted green clearance to a grand, Rs 2,000-crore project to build a hill station at Mulshi, a taluka in Pune district. The company behind the project – Maharashtra Valley View Private Limited – had been waiting for environment approvals since 2011, and has now managed to get it based on what seems to be a technicality.

The Kasturirangan report of April 2013 classifies Mulshi as a no-development zone because of the sensitive ecology of the surrounding Western Ghats. A year ago, however, the union environment ministry issued an order stating that old rules could be applied for projects submitted to environment agencies before the Kasturirangan report was accepted. This gave the proposed Mulshi hill station smoother access to the green clearance it has finally won, even though it could pose a serious threat to the three reserve forests and three key dams surrounding it.

Reclassifying the Mumbai coastline: Builders in Mumbai are no fans of the country’s strict coastal regulation zone rules, which don’t allow new development within 500 metres of open sea fronts. Up till last week, all of Mumbai’s western coast classified as an open sea front, but not anymore.

On November 19, the Supreme Court upheld the Bombay high court’s decision that the coastline of Mahim area can technically qualify as a bay, and not an open coast. Along a bay, CRZ rules forbid development only within 100 metres of the coastline.

The apex court’s decision has come as an immediate boon for Hubtown developers, a real estate firm that had been unable to develop its 5.5-acre plot in Prabhadevi because it fell within 500 metres of the Mahim coast. To plead their case in court, the builders managed to get a letter from the Institute of Remote Sensing in Chennai, which stated that Mahim is not an open shore but a bay.

Now that the redefinition has been accepted by the highest court, it is likely to lead to a development boom across the city’s coast, because technically, other parts of Mumbai’s western coast could also classify as bays – such as the Backbay area in south Mumbai. From an environment standpoint, however, such a development boom will increase population densities in an already-overcrowded city.

The Shivaji memorial: Barely three weeks after assuming office, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis set out to appease a petulant Shiv Sena by ordering the state administration to expedite the various pending approvals for the massive 309-feet equestrian statue of Maratha warrior king Shivaji to be built on an 18-hectare rock in the Arabian Sea off Mumbai.

The proposed statue, if built, would be taller than New York’s Statue of Liberty and the plans also include developing a tourist area around it with a museum, amphitheatre, auditorium, aquarium and even facilities for water sports. The project is likely to cost nearly Rs 1,400 crore.

In June 2013, when the union environment ministry approved the project in principle, the state government still had to obtain at least 40 different approvals and conduct several studies on the impact the monument could have on tidal behaviour, marine biodiversity, the environment and local fishermen.

While some of those studies are already complete and the project has been submitted again to the union environment ministry, Fadnavis’ priority is to get the approvals speeded up as much as possible.