Despite strident protests by citizen groups across the city, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to continue denoting private clubs and gymkhanas across the city as ‘open spaces’.
This categorisation in the existing land use (ELU) maps, citizens fear, may jeopardise
the demand for more open spaces in the city.
The BMC had earlier assured citizen groups that it would add a category to the ELU maps ensuring that private and public open spaces are distinguished.
However, in the report brought out by the civic body on Saturday, it has stuck to its earlier stand.
Experts said the BMC should have categorised these spaces as private as they restrict entry to members.
By classifying public parks and playgrounds along with private spaces as open spaces, citizens said the BMC might be trying to inflate the area under open spaces.
This way, it doesn’t have to provide as many open spaces in the proposed development plan for the next 20 years.
Currently, the city has a dismal per capita open space ratio of 0.99 square metre whereas the 1991 DP had envisaged at least 2.48 sqm per person.
This was a principal demand made by citizen groups when the BMC had invited public objections to the maps.
For instance, the A-ward federation of citizen groups had objected to private clubs being marked as open spaces.
A federation member, Nayana Kathpalia, said the civic body had gone back on its own promises.
“The BMC had said it would add layers in the map to make the distinction clear. They cannot reject our objections like this.”
Others said the BMC would set a wrong precedent by not categorising private clubs separately.
“Many such clubs don’t have any open space left.The BMC needs to commit on paper that it would distinguish between public and private spaces,” said Pankaj Joshi, executive director of the Urban Design Research Insitute.
A senior civic official from the development plan department, said: “We will add a layer to distinguish between open spaces as private and public and accordingly, make a report on it soon.”
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