BMC likely to pass Mumbai’s development plan today, 3 years past its deadline

Tanushree Venkatraman, Hindustan Times, July 31 2017

Link to the news article

The plan is likely to be passed with close to 250 amendments, taking into account umpteen suggestions and objections made by Mumbaiites.

The plan is likely to be passed with close to 250 amendments, taking into account umpteen suggestions and objections made by Mumbaiites.

The city’s Development Plan 2034, which was supposed to be released three years ago, may finally be passed on Monday. And it is replete with controversial proposals such as the plan to build a Metro car shed at the last of the city’s green patches, Aarey Colony. Affordable housing has been promised, but at the cost of Mumbai’s salt pan land and no-development zones. Mumbaiites have also been promised galleries, helipads on rooftops of high-rises and gender- and disabled-friendly facilities.

The discussion in the BMC will begin at 12pm. The plan is likely to be passed with close to 250 amendments, taking into account umpteen suggestions and objections made by Mumbaiites.

But the plan is still far from being implemented. After getting the BMC’s approval, it will be sent to the state government, which has another six months to review the DP.

Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar said, “Once it has been passed in the general body on Monday, the administration will send it to the state government’s urban development department.”

While Mahadeshwar did not specify the number of amendments introduced by the Shiv Sena, which rules the BMC, he said, “In the scrutiny process, we have removed all the proposals that demanded a change in reservation for gardens, open spaces, hospitals or schools, according to our party leader Uddhav Thackeray’s directions.” Mahadeshwar presides over the 227-corporator run general body that has to pass the 20-year blueprint of the city. Sources have said the Sena is going to put forward close to 70 amendments.

For the past two weeks, group leaders have been scrutinising the proposals sent by their party corporators before submitting it to the mayor.

The DP is a crucial document determining the city’s land use and infrastructure development for the next 20 years. While the first version was released in February 2015, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis ordered a revision post a public-outcry over the DP being builder-friendly. The revised DP was then released in four different phases in 2016 with the BMC accepting public observations at every stage.

The plan proposes to increase affordable housing in the city by opening up salt-pan lands and no-development zones (NDZ’s) which accounts for 2,000 hectares of land across the city. With the accommodation reservation policy, the new plan has sweetened the deal for land owners, who will be compensated with additional construction rights than currently permissible if they develop the land and hand it over for public use.

The plan has paved the way for viewing galleries and helipads on the rooftop of tall buildings and common terraces that can be utilised as recreational spaces. After constant demands, the plan has also incorporated gender- and disabled-friendly aspects that can be incorporated in the city. This is the first DP that has been integrated with the BMC’s budget with an allocation of Rs2,000 crore in the financial year of 2017-18.

However, experts have pointed out many drawbacks. Slums that occupy a major portion of Mumbai are still not part of the proposed land-use maps of the DP. The per capita allocation for open spaces, healthcare facilities, education amenities and social amenities in the DP is not even close to the required national standards of the Urban Development Plans Formulation and Implementation (UDPFI) guidelines. For instance, the required per capita allocation for open spaces is 10-12 per sqm, according to the UDPFI. However, the DP has allocated only 4 per sqm in the city and suburbs.

Despite seeking extensions since March 2017, the general began discussions on the plan only last week. The final deadline for BMC to pass the plan is now August 2, government officials said. The state government will take a minimum of six months to scrutinise the 600-page document along 2,245 recommendations of the planning committee that conducted citizen hearings and the corporation’s amendments. Civic officials confirmed that the state will take a final call on the plan.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) group leader Manoj Kotak confirmed that BJP has put in 104 amendments. Kotak said, “We have demanded that most of the reservations as per DP 1991 be continued and the reservation of a metro car-shed in Aarey should not be changed.” Sena, the ruling party of BMC has expressed his objection to the state government’s metro car-shed plans on multiple platforms.

Samajwadi Party leader Rais Shaikh said the party has put in 13 amendments. Congress leaders said there are about 30-40 amendments from the party and another 10 by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) are expected. Shaikh said, “The discussions, however, have been very general and not specific to the amendments introduced.”

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