Mixed response to Mumbai housing plan

The Telegraph, April 30 2018

Mumbai:┬áThe Maharashtra government’s decision to unlock more land for housing in its Development Plan 2034 for Mumbai has evoked mixed reactions among citizen groups and environmentalists.

Some non-government organisations have backed the plan (DP) unveiled on April 25. But some citizen groups criticised the decision to release vast tracts of land now under “No Development Zones” for affordable housing and increase the floor space index (FSI), saying these measures would only help realtors.

Environmentalists warned the plan would have a “disastrous” impact on the city’s already crumbling infrastructure.

Mitesh Prajapati, spokesperson for the Citizen Civic Solutions Foundation that had suggested changes in the draft plan, said the FSI allotted for commercial properties in the name of affordable housing and employment generation would, in reality, benefit only builders.

“We strongly oppose the decision to grant an FSI of 5 for commercial properties and will approach the court once we receive the final copy of the DP. Only builders will benefit from this move,” Prajapati# said.

FSI – the ratio of the total built-up area to the total area – is basically a tool that defines the extent of construction permissible on a plot.

Prajapati, whose NGO was invited by minister of state for urban development Ranjit Patil for consultations, said the government did not heed suggestions against giving additional FSI to commercial properties in residential areas.

Debi Goenka, executive trustee, Conservation Action Trust, an NGO formed to protect the environment, said Mumbai’s infrastructure was already at a breaking point. “The sanctioned DP is a disaster in the making.”

Goenka said an additional 14.96sqkm area, proposed to be added to open spaces, was actually stretches of mangrove created because of siltation of the Thane creek.

Architect and Congress MLC Anant Gadgil said the government should have focused on building sub-growth centres between Mumbai and cities like Pune and Nashik.

“Europe promotes the concept of working where you live for professionals. A similar idea, based on the existing situation, could have been adopted here instead of promoting commercial spaces.” Rajan Samuel, managing director, Habitat for Humanity India, however, welcomed the DP’s thrust on housing.

“Everyone deserves to have a decent place to live. With meticulous planning and proper execution, the DP can positively change the growth story of Mumbai and its citizens,” said Samuel, whose not-for-profit outfit works towards addressing the housing needs of low-income families. “It (the DP) will help realise the dreams of the middle-class and the poor sections to have a home of their own.” PTI

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