Activism against Mumbai’s controversial development plan has won, and how. Mumbaikars have not only made all political parties toe the line, but also compelled the Devendra Fadnavis government to scrap the DP. The people deserve hearty congratulations for achieving this feat.
But we think the victory is incomplete at this point in time. It is time to hold to account those who created this mess in the first place and caused such distress to the city’s cross-section. Since the state government bound by laws which prevent it from encroaching on the corporation’s sovereignty has put the ball in the BMC’s court, it’s now the responsibility of the same set of activists and experts which foiled the DP, to push erring politicians and bureaucrats in the BMC to the wall.
The issue has exposed senior bureaucrats to the hilt. Municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte, who helmed the draft, may not agree with us if we say that he rarely appeared to be pro-people in this entire exercise. His claims that the DP would make available affordable housing, commercial spaces and jobs, have fallen flat. His other claim that the demand for FSI was long pending may be true, but begs the question between the common man who cannot afford houses and cash-rich developers, who will really benefit from extra FSI?
The BMC has spent R5 crore of tax-payers’ money to pay a private agency for preparing the DP. This raises questions about the ability of the people working for the said company and the BMC officials who supervised the job. We need to ask the BMC whether the said agency deserved the job, which was executed so shabbily?
The BJP, partner to the Shiv Sena in BMC, has demanded a probe in the fiasco. In this, the BJP may have the political motive of scoring some points over the Sena, but then, the BMC which boasts a larger budget than many states in the country has always been under the scanner for its lack of transparency. Perhaps now is the time to press these issues.