Mumbai: The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has agreed to the demand by residents of Palghar, Thane and Raigad for hearings on the proposed Development Plan (DP) at the district-level and not at Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC).
While hearings at the MMRDA’s BKC office will continue, a joint hearing of those who had either raised objections or given suggestions to amend the draft DP for their respective talukas will be held in the respective districts.
Head of the Planning Division of the MMRDA, Uma Adsumilli, who had initially rejected the demand, has now agreed to it. In a communication to the Prayavaran Sanvardhan Samiti (PSS), Ms. Adsumilli has said that once the process of hearing concluded on July 10, MMRDA will hold a joint or collective hearing of all the citizens who had either raised objections or given suggestions to amend the proposed draft DP for their respective talukas. The dates for the hearings will be announced in local newspapers.
Sameer Vartak, coordinator for PSS, told The Hindu, “We pressed our case despite the initial stonewalling by MMRDA officials who had rejected our demand for localised hearings. We had to fight for it, especially since over 63,000 objections and suggestions have been filed from the three districts. Holding the hearings in Mumbai has inconvenienced a lot of local people, mainly senior citizens who had raised objections to the DP and were put to great trouble travelling for over five hours to reach the MMRDA office.”
Subhadra Yashwant Kolhi (65), a fisherwoman from the Vasai-Virar belt in Palghar district who was called on June 15 for an individual hearing to her objections for Palghar taluka, went through the grind. “I was standing outside this office since 12 noon. There is no water available in this heat; neither is there a restroom. I went to meet the person in charge but we were not allowed in. Efforts to meet MMRDA chief UPS Madan also proved to be futile,” Ms. Kolhi said.
Mr. Vartak termed this as a case of bureaucratic red-tape. “Why are no basic facilities like water and restrooms made available to the people who were called to appear for the hearings? It is the obligation of the MMRDA to ensure adequate facilities. It was expected to rain, but it did not. However, if it now rains, where will the people who have travelled several hours to get here go?” he asked.