Activists say BMC's development plan is a 'recipe for disaster'

May 14, 2016, 08:24 IST | A Correspondent

They say it will rob the city of at least 30% open spaces, including part of salt pan lands, and the planned reclamation will lead to flooding

With several controversial provisions, the newly-drafted Development Control Regulations, part of the BMC's Development Plan, seems to be a recipe for disaster.

Activists were outraged by the inclusion of salt pan lands since they are ecologically sensitive. File pic
Activists were outraged by the inclusion of salt pan lands since they are ecologically sensitive. File pic

It will not only rob the city of at least 30% of the open spaces it deserves, but is also controversial for its unlocking of No Development Zones, including salt pan lands. mid-day takes a look at all that is controversial about this DP and what experts have to say about it.

The plan
Construction on open space: mid-day was the first to report how the BMC will allow construction on 30% open spaces while retaining the rest. The provision was brought in because when the civic body would reserve a certain private plot as open space, the owner would invariably counter the reservation using legal means. The space would not be available for years which led to less implementation of the DP.

Unlocking of NDZ: The civic body had proposed unlocking of 2,100 hectares of No Development Zones that were initially perceived as full of mangroves and reclaimed land. Besides, the civic body plans to generate 500 hectares from the tourism development authority; 260 hectares from salt pan lands and 140 hectares of port trust land. There was outrage about the inclusion of salt pan lands since they are ecologically sensitive.

Redevelopment of slums: The civic body has recently released provision 33(10) of a chapter called 'Additional FSI.' One of the sub-clauses of the provision says that, if for instance there is a plot of 501 sq mts which has an open space reservation but has been encroached by slums, 67% of it can be used for redevelopment of that slum, while 33% will be used for open space.

'Mumbai will become mini Holland'

Ashok Rawat, a civic activist
The BMC has planned reclamation of land for a 300-acre central park at Cuffe Parade. Such reclamation will lead to flooding. They are destroying monsoon buffers by reclamation. Besides, the extra FSI will only cause densification. Instead, they should give higher FSI in the peripheral areas to encourage people to shift out of the island city. The island city should be connected to the mainland. Otherwise, Mumbai will become a mini-Holland.

Shweta Wagh, assistant professor at Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute of Architecture
Even if they are converting one third of NDZs, salt pan lands into open space, they need to understand that even that the land must be supporting the local community. People must be undertaking agriculture, drying of fish or simply living there. Their livelihood might be dependent on that land. Has that been taken into consideration?

Godfrey Pimenta, of the Watchdog Foundation
There is a Cabinet decision that land reservations cannot be changed without prior Cabinet approval. Also, if you compare amenity standards between the 1991 DP and the new one, those for open space and social have been reduced. The open space square mts per person has been reduced from 6 to 4. Mumbai has a high density of population and a low open space ratio.


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