Published on 1/9/2017 1:05:11 PM
Mumbai's revised draft development plan ready with 1,430 amendments
While the controversial revised draft development plan (DP) 2034, in the works for a year, was finally ready with 1,430 amendments a fortnight ago, a tussle between the ruling BMC alliance of Shiv Sena and BJP may further delay its tabling.
Two weeks ago, a six-member panel concluded mandatory hearings on the suggestions and objections received over the revised draft DP and prepared the final report. While three government representatives on the panel signed it, three others—two from the Sena and one from the BJP—haven’t done so, due to suspected political reasons, say observers. The civic authority will be able to table the revised draft DP before the general body meeting of corporators for approval only after all sign it.
A total of 7,887 citizens either appeared before the panel during the hearing process or submitted their suggestions and objections in writing. The panel subsequently agreed to make 1,433 changes in the revised draft DP. Since the three political representatives were also present during most of the hearings, they too were expected to sign the final report. Instead, they sought more time.
The DP is the city’s future development plan for the next 20 years. Earlier, the BMC had prepared the draft DP by 2014 after a four-year-long struggle.
The draft had several blunders such as wrong reservation on existing heritage sites, proposal for roads right through existing buildings and provisions for a higher floor space index (FSI) at specific locations, allegedly to favour builders.
Citizens strongly opposed it for "disturbing the peace of their lives" for DP planners had marked most of the reservations without conducting an actual survey of the plots; they completely depended on satellite images. For instance, a private road that ran through the middle of 50-year-old Shree Ram Society in Andheri West, was assumed to be a public road. The draft DP proposed its widening. But it would have involved demolishing portions of several buildings.
Affected residents and activists strongly protested against the draft DP, forcing chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to order its revision. Municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta, who took charge amidst the controversy in 2015, changed the entire team involved in its preparation. He also ensured that local ward offices got involved in the process. This helped the new team correct most of the mistakes after examining the ground reality over a short period of time.
It fixed a similar floor space index for the entire city to avoid favouritism and adopted an approach to convince non-development zone land owners to surrender their plots for public amenities after offering them attractive incentives. But the BMC took a policy decision not to make certain changes such as the metro carshed in Aarey and affordable housing in salt pan land, despite strong protests from environmentalists.