Makarand Gadgil, Mumbai Mirror, 26 July 2017
State government wants to go back to the 1991 formula of mill land redevelopment, which gave the BMC and MHADA a much bigger chunk of land per mill compound.
After losing around 340 acres of prime land in south-central Mumbai, the Maharashtra government has now proposed a change in the land sharing formula for mill land development. It now wants to go back to the 1991 formula, according to which mill owners will have to hand over two-third of the entire mill land to the BMC and MHADA. According to a change in the formula in 2003, mill owners had to give two-third of only the open space on the plots, which meant only that area which was not covered by factory, sheds or any other construction.
However, activists say the latest reversal is a case of too little, too late as most of the 50 mill lands have already been redeveloped. Only two private mills and five mills owned by public sector company National Textile Mills are yet to be redeveloped. This will give the state only around 60 acres of land for open spaces and for development of affordable MHADA housing.
Debi Goenka of BEAG said, “The state government’s decision is too little too late, after irreparable damage has already been done to the city’s environment. Every day, we are witnessing the consequences of unchecked development in Mumbai, how they are putting pressure on the city’s creaking infrastructure.”
Out of the 400 acres of land which could have come to the BMC and MHADA under the 1991 formula, residential and commercial towers now stand on 340 acres of them. The state can at best hope to get just 60 acres of land for affordable housing and development of open spaces from the mill land that remains to be redeveloped.
In 1991, the state government had thrown open around 600 acres of mill land covered by 50 odd mills in central and south central Mumbai for redevelopment. However, the state government had put the condition that mill owners would have to give one-third of the land to the BMC for development of open space, another onethird to MHADA to build affordable housing and the rest could be developed by the owner.
However, till early 2000, there were hardly any takers for the development on mill land, so in 2003, the state government changed the land sharing formula. Under the new formula, two-third of only the vacant land in the mill compound was required to be shared with BMC and MHADA.
This was challenged by Bombay Environmental Action Group (BEAG) in Bombay High Court, which ruled in favour of BEAG. However, mill owners and the state government challenged it in Supreme Court, who in 2006 ruled in favour of the state and mill owners.
But now BJP-led state government has once again proposed to restore the 1991 land sharing formula. Suggestions and objections have been invited from citizens, for which the last date is August 7.
Datta Iswalkar, convenor of Mill Workers Action Committee demanded that out of the 60 acres of land that the state is expected to get, the entire area should be used for the state’s scheme of housing for mill workers and their families. “So far, out of around 1.75 lakh mill workers, only 11,000 have got homes under the government scheme.”
1991 vs 2003
According to the 1991 formula, mill owners who wanted to develop their land would have to give one-third of the land to the BMC for development of open space, another one-third to MHADA for affordable housing and the remaining third could be developed by the owner.
In 2003, the state changed the land sharing formula, under which a third of only the vacant land in the mill compound was required to be shared with BMC and MHADA each. The land on which factories, sheds, etc stood was not going to be factored in this calculation.