mid day editorial: Development can't be at cost of environment
The trigger for the trepidation was an advertisement calling for bids from developers for the construction of these houses
The Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority's (MHADA) Mumbai board has proposed to construct 26,959 houses in Aarey Milk Colony, to rehabilitate tribals and slum dwellers from National Park. While this will eat into 90 acres of Aarey land, the houses are expected to cost Rs 3,500 crore. Activists fear the human settlement will eventually involve heavy infrastructure and commercial development on this space in the near future.
The trigger for the trepidation was an advertisement calling for bids from developers for the construction of these houses. Instead of monetary benefits, the developer will be given development rights, which can be used anywhere in the city except Aarey, said MHADA officials.
We hope that this is not what sceptical activists fear, garb of housing and upping the life standard of tribals, but just another way of snatching more of the city's little green left.
The MHADA officials must be true and reassure people that they are not going to gobble up the green space. This can only come through dialogue and completely transparent process. We have seen the trust deficit thrown into sharp relief by the recent Metro car shed vs activists' battles.
It is time now to bridge this gap. Along with advertisements, once there is progress on this issue, clearly marked signboards must state what the project is all about, how much space is needed and how it will affect the ecology. Most problems and protests have arisen because there has been no channel of communication between people and officials.
Priority has to be to keep this green lung open. The second responsibility is to establish talks and third is to keep all promises given to the city. This is the path of least resistance and friction in the tug of war between so called development and environmental activism.
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