In a packed metropolis where breathing space is hard to come by, a city architect’s plan to enhance Mumbai’s open spaces by almost 10 sq km has got the attention of the Shiv Sena-ruled BMC. So much so that party executive president Uddhav Thackeray instructed his corporators to attend an exhibition by urban planner PK Das at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), Fort to view his array of plans to increase the spaces without affecting any citizen. On Tuesday, Sena’s 75 newly elected corporators will go for the exhibition, with a view to incorporating the ideas at ward level.
Smart design: BMC standing committee chairperson Rahul Shewale looks at architect PK Das's (below) array of plans for the city at the NGMA, Fort; the architect with his plan. Pic/Bipin Kokate
According to Das’s plans, there would be 9.85 sq km more open space in the city against the existing 13.37 sq km – or 1.1 sq m per person, the least in the country. The idea is to mark out spaces beside nallahs and rivers, and beautify them with walkways and cycling tracks; have boardwalks and promenades along the coastline, major tree plantations and recreation grounds or playgrounds (RG/PG).
Said chairman of the BMC standing committee Rahul Shewale, “Uddhavji liked the exhibition and has asked the corporators to have a look at it. Das’s planning would increase the open spaces in the city as per international standards. If we start working on the projects, they would be better than the coastal road project. I went for the exhibition and might include some of the things in the BMC’s revised budget this year. We could incorporate a separate category in the budget: every year funds could be allocated under Open Spaces in Mumbai.”
“We have certain beach nourishments projects going on at Mahim-Dadar-Prabhadevi and we could use Das’s designs for other beaches and coastline,” Shewale said, adding, “He has made an interesting suggestion of including the mangrove area, one of the most encroached in the city, in the development plan.” The BMC budget is set for revision in the standing committee when members can propose projects and revise provisions.
“We currently only have a head wherein Rs 492 crore has been set aside for RG/PG, while Rs 100 crore for the development,” he said. Said Das, “Open space is shrinking in the city, reflecting the quality of life due to the exploitation of land with construction potential. I have planned a comprehensive network system of developing and maintaining open spaces, thus enhancing the social networking in the city. If corporators are showing interest in the exhibition, it can be done at ward level also.” By Das’s calculations, the spaces around 16 km of beaches, 37 km of planned nallahs, four rivers 28.3 km in length, and 70.97 sq km of creeks and wetlands — a total of 155.1 sq km — can be put to advantage to create extra space.