Church errors continue in sanctioned Mumbai Development Plan
Christian community in anguish with new DP, which continues to mark churches as gardens and even schools
Members of Christian groups across the city continue their fight for churches that have been marked incorrectly in the Development Plan 2034 despite these objections having been raised with the state government as well as the civic body. After studying the sanctioned development plan, members of the community say that 22 churches have not been marked at all and others have been marked as industrial zones, orphanages and even graveyards. The fear is that this will allow for misuse of the land usage on the said spots.
Godfrey Pimenta, executive committee member of the Bombay Catholic Sabha, pointed out that only 28 churches, out of the city's approximately 100, have been marked correctly even though the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act mandates that all religious structures should be marked in the DP. "We had pointed these errors out to the Planning Committee and later with the Urban Development Department. A total of 13,000 suggestions and objections were sent from various church groups. However, the errors continue to be reflected in the sanctioned plan," he said.
Vivian D'Souza, president of the Bombay East India Association, said civic officials had assured them that churches that were marked in the DP 1991 would prevail even if they are not present in the current DP. "What if the authority doesn't compare the current DP with the previous one? They ought to have marked them since the land use is still a place for holy worship," he said.
Pimenta pointed out that while 23 churches have been marked as primary and secondary schools, three have been marked as gardens, one for rehabilitation and resettlement, two as industrial zones, two as graveyards, one as an orphanage and one as a municipal staff quarter. He added that he would write to the BMC demanding rectification.
Earlier, the explanation the BMC had given was that only the prominent religious structures would be marked. But, the definition of 'prominent' has not been specified. "Several prominent religious structures like the Siddhivinayak Mandir, Walkeshwar Temple and ISKCON Temple have not been marked either," Pimenta added.
Civic officials from the Development Plan department said churches and other religious structures have been marked in the sanctioned plan, which has been approved by the state government. "They will have to show which churches they are talking about. They should have brought them up at the time suggestions and objections were invited," said a civic official.
Barring the churches, members of the Bombay Catholic Sabha accompanied by the Bombay East Indian Association, Watchdog Foundation and Save Our Land are also fighting to ensure that gaothans are marked accurately in the city's 20-year-plan. On Saturday, they staged a protest in front of the office of the Collector of the Western Suburbs, Sachin Kurve where they demanded that demarcation of the gaothan boundaries be done as soon as possible.
Pimenta added that in addition to this, several gaothans have been erroneously marked as Koliwadas. "This has happend in Madh Island, as well as Khar. The municipal commissioner has the power to rectify these errors," said Pimenta. D'Souza added that Kurve has now called for a meeting of the city survey officials on December 3 to understand the process of demarcation of the gaothans.
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