Mumbai: CM Fadnavis gives DP the boot, tells BMC to start afresh

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis yesterday said the state had decided to scrap the controversial Development Plan 2034; the civic body has been asked to consider citizen suggestions and prepare a fresh plan within four months

The controversial Development Plan (DP) 2034 for Mumbai, drafted by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), has been scrapped by the state government, which has asked the BMC to correct mistakes in the draft and prepare a new version within four months.

The DP has faced heavy criticism for its proposal to increase FSI to 8, and also to open up no-development zones to commercial real estate developers. File pic for representation
The DP has faced heavy criticism for its proposal to increase FSI to 8, and also to open up no-development zones to commercial real estate developers. File pic for representation

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis made this announcement yesterday after the matter was discussed in the Cabinet meeting. He had said in the state legislature recently that the plan would be scrapped and prepared afresh, if found irregular.

Fadnavis had appointed a panel under Swadheen Kshatriya, state chief secretary, which submitted its report to the Cabinet yesterday. “The state has decided to direct BMC to take into consideration the suggestions and objections by citizens, and make a new DP in next four months,” the CM told mediapersons.

He said the new draft would also be published to seek suggestions and objections from the citizens. The previous DP was adopted in 1991 it is currently in force now, till the draft DP, which now has to be revised, is passed.

Fadnavis said in order to ensure that there is no misuse of the existing DP (1991) in the four months till the new draft is prepared, the more stringent of the two plans the current and the draft would apply for development work.

Under fire
The draft DP has been at the receiving end of the ire of activists and citizens over several of its proposed plans. Many had questioned the proposal to grant more floor space index (FSI), opening of no-development zones for constructions and the philosophy that more FSI would create more affordable housing in the city. The 20-year DP (till 2034) had proposed increasing the FSI to a maximum of 8.

Releasing the city’s green spaces for development had also caused widespread outrage. Moreover, the plan had excluded heritage precincts in many areas, completely excluded tribals staying in Aarey Milk Colony while identifying the green patch as a potential development zone, and had also left out many areas in the city governed by other special planning authorities like the Slum Redevelopment Authority (SRA) and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA).

Despite the public outcry, the BMC authorities had continued to defend the plan. Chief secretary Swadheen Kshatriya’s panel had placed its interim report before the government on April 10, in which it had said that the DP had “enormous mistakes.”

Instead of recommending an extension of the 60-day period for sending in suggestions and objections, the panel advised the government to scrap the DP altogether and prepare it afresh by accommodating the view of the Mumbaikars. The civic body had spent over R5 crore on the plan, including the consultant’s fees and other costs.

'Fix responsibility for mess'
City BJP president and MLA Ashish Shelar has demanded a probe in the making of the controversial Development Plan. Welcoming the CM’s decision, he said that all issues should be probed to find out the people responsible for the mess and that the private agency which prepared the DP should be asked to return Rs 5 crore they were paid.

“The aggrieved people of the city must know the key players behind the goof-up and unnecessary spending of the tax-payers’ money. We also demand action against the people and agencies involved,” he said in a statement on Tuesday. Shelar said that the work of preparing the DP was given to SCE Ltd in an international bidding process.

However, SCE Ltd sub-contracted the work to Egis Geo. He alleged that the transfer was illegal, and, hence, needed to be probed. He said that the two companies involved were not part of one group when the work was allotted. He demanded to know whether SCE, which won the bid, had informed the BMC about the merger.

Issues with the DP
>> Granting builders FSI of up to 8 to create affordable housing 
>> Proposed conversion of Aarey Milk Colony to commercial hub
>> Releasing 16,961 acres of land labelled as no-development zone or NDZ, for development. This included eco-sensitive zones in Wadala, Mahul, Madh, Marve, Charkop, Gorai, Dahisar, Dindoshi, Vikhroli, Nahur, Mankhurd and Bhandup. The land, if sold, would have shrunk the city’s no-development area to 28,223 acres from the existing 45,184 acres.
>> Ignoring several heritage structures completely
>> Many popular religious places and shrines faced demolition because of the DP provisions
>> Existing land use, too, was not shown properly in the draft

BMC speak
“We will follow the government order regarding the draft DP. It’s true the BMC spent well over R5 crore on the DP; the consultant’s fee itself was about R5 crore. But we can’t say that the money or effort of four years has been wasted.

After all, the maps created or the information generated will be important data for the future. However, I can’t say whether the entire DP will be made afresh or only parts of it will be revised.

I will have to see the copy of the government order. I’m positive the work can be completed within four months,” Sitaram Kunte, municipal commissioner, said.

Parties say

Raj Thackeray, MNS chief
This wasn’t a development plan. It was a joke. We will reach out to people to seek their suggestions and objections in the next four months.

Sachin Sawant, Congress spokesperson
This (scrapping of DP) is a big victory for citizens. I doubt whether the BJP-Sena government can bring the new DP within four months.

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