AMONG THE most shocking Indore Development Plan 2021 (draft) de-greening exercises is the proposal to convert usage of chunk of prime real estate opposite Choithram from green to residential.
The 40-acre tract is located in the heart of the City with an approximate value of over Rs 100 crore. The land was designated a green belt under the 1975 master plan keeping in mind the need for open green spaces within City limits - a status it maintained over the next quarter century despite its former owners leaving no stone unturned to convert the land categorisation.
“We even approached then Principal Secretary (Environment) M N Buch, but he told us that there was no question of the land use being changed,” revealed well-known photographer Bhalu Mondhe, who bought a six-acre tract at the site.
Despairing of attaining their objective, Mondhe and other landowners sold their land for a song over the next few years. The real estate was snapped up by agents, who reportedly resold it to land Mafiosi. And, within months of purchasing the land, the influential new owners managed to get land use changed to residential.
That the Town and Country Planning Department decided to declare the land residential - the adverse impact increased habitation and the attendant strain on civic infrastructure would wreak on the hospital notwithstanding - speaks volumes about the land sharks’ power.
In another quixotic move, the Town and Country Planning Department has converted the entire green belt stretch opposite Velocity cinema to residential.
Except for one plot, for which the government has already okayed building permission. Among other eyebrow-raising proposals is the decision to allow houses in the Bilawali Lake catchment area, conversion of agricultural tracts in Malikhedi and Asravad Bajurg villages and the area around Nihalpur Mandi to residential areas.
Former Environment Secretary M N Buch says that those who have proposed conversion of green areas should be convicted under Section 302 for killing a City. Indore has the State’s worst record of converting green spaces to built-up areas, either legally or illegally. This has resulted in a rapid diminishing of green cover. It is imperative that existing green spaces are preserved, at any cost, he said.