While the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) received nearly 12,000 suggestions and objections to the development plan (DP) 2034, only 3,400 citizens turned up for the hearings on the issues that were held between October 17 and December 16.
Anticipating a large turnout, the BMC had planned an ambitious schedule for hearings on the city’s proposed blueprint. The civic body had set a deadline of hearing at least 10,000 cases within 21 days.
From S ward alone, the panel in-charge of hearing suggestions and objections was ready to tackle 921 citizen cases on a single day on November 13, and 1,425 cases on the proposed development control regulation (DCR) on December 15.
The turnout of citizens is poor in comparison to the 12,000-odd objections the BMC received on the draft DP, which was also highly criticised by resident groups and experts mainly for proposing to open up ecologically sensitive areas for housing.
Moreover, a right to information (RTI) query filed by the Urban Design Research Institute (UDRI), which is a body of town planners, showed citizens had actually submitted 84,000 objections to the plan. The body said the BMC clubbed the responses and downplayed the number to avoid criticism.
The hearings were held by a planning committee comprising three corporators from the ruling Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance and three urban experts appointed by the state government.
Activists said many people did not turn up as they did not know about the schedule of hearings. Sitaram Shelar from Hamara Shehar Mumbai Abhiyaan (HSMA) said, “Many people did not know about the hearings. I know of one of the slum areas where 3,000 objections were filed, but only 30 people went for the hearings.”
Civic officials also said ALthough the objections were filed in bulk, the hearings were attended by only a representative of a particular organisation.
A senior civic official present at all hearings said, “Only a few representatives of the organisations turned up for the hearings.”
The planning committee is now in the process of preparing a report on the hearings. The report along with the DP will then be submitted to the general body of 227 corporators for an approval.