BMC polls: Political parties give a miss to Mumbai’s development plan  | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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BMC polls: Political parties give a miss to Mumbai’s development plan 

Although the development plan will decide city’s growth for 20 years, it finds no place in poll campaigns

mumbai Updated: Jan 18, 2017 16:36 IST
Tanushree Venkatraman
The plan, which was to be ready in 2014, is yet to be passed
The plan, which was to be ready in 2014, is yet to be passed(HT)

What should a 20-year vision document of the country’s richest civic body mean to its citizens? If you ask any Mumbaiite – who has waited for it for six years, seen the draft development plan being revised, along with more than 70,000 suggestions – the answer is errors, delays and extensions.

Development plan (DP) is the infrastructure blueprint for the city for the next two decades. The 600-page plan tells how tall the buildings can be, open spaces the city will get, how the commute can be made better and the plots reserved for schools and hospitals for the next two decades.

The plan, which was to be ready in 2014, is yet to be passed. Political parties have shown little interest in the document shaping Mumbai’s future by diluting the vision for better standard of living and ignoring a majority of citizens’ demands. The result: development work has taken a hit.

It doesn’t end here. Even as Mumbai witnesses a high-pitched BMC poll battle, DP 2034, which probably everything a party’s manifesto mentions before any election, is unlikely to be a part of any party’s manifesto or a concern.

Pankaj Joshi, executive director of the Urban Design Research Institute (UDRI), said, “It is political apathy as the plan has never been an election issue. This is also because elections are held every 5 years, while the plan is made only in once in 20 years. The awareness of the plan is low and the impact is not understood.”

The story so far

The 60-day window for citizens to submit their suggestions/objections to the revised DP 2014-34 ended in July 2016. In August, the state appointed three experts to the planning committee to hear citizens’ objections along with three corporators. However, the ruling parties in the BMC -- Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) -- named the three corporators after nearly two months. Recently, it sought another extension to not release the plan before the February civic elections. Sources say even if the planning committee’s report is ready, the Sena is wary of getting into a blame-game before the crucial elections.

Shirish Sukhatme, an architect and member of Practising Engineers, Architects and Town Planners (PEATA) said, “There is ambiguity in policies which is killing development.”

The exemptions

Around 41.2% of Mumbai’s population lives in slums, approximately 8-9% of Mumbai’s land, for which there are no provisions in the plan. Instead, there are various reservations for public amenities on the plot.

“Political parties approach slum-dwellers every election, but what about its development? Even the boundaries of gaothans/koliwadas have not been marked clearly,” Joshi said.

The plan excludes slums from its proposed land use (PLU) maps, although it is a part of the existing land use (ELU) maps prepared in 2012.

Manoj Kotak, BJP corporator and planning committee member said, “The reservations on slum areas mean they will be included in the plot’s development.”

Vision blurred

Every political party’s election manifesto promises a better quality of life. But the per capita allocation for open spaces, health care facilities, education amenities and social amenities in the DP is not even close to the required national standards of the urban development plans.

Trushna Vishwasrao, senior Sena leader and planning committee member, said, “We have given prime importance to open spaces and affordable housing in the plan.”

Another criticism is the ruling parties express their objections only after the draft is released. Kotak, however, said it is only “natural” to give suggestions after the release.

Sitaram Shelar, member of the Hamara Shehar Mumbai Abhiyaan, a campaign working towards creating an inclusive DP, said, “None of the parties are serious about the plan. They raise objections later only to show they are still in control.”

A tale of space crunch in Maximum City

Per capita amenities available in the city

Open spaces (e.g. playgrounds): 1.24 square meters (sqm)

Health (e.g.hospitals): 0.15sqm

Education (e.g. schools): 0.5sqm

Social (e.g. markets): 0.16sqm

Standards proposed in DP 2034 (per capita)

Open spaces: 4sqm

Health: 0.419sqm

Education: 1.574sqm

Social: 0.13sqm

Standards required (according to national norms)

Open spaces: 10-12sqm

Health: 1.28sqm

Education: 3.58sqm

Social: 1.37sqm

Suggestions/objections

For the plan draft released in February 2015, the BMC received more than 50,000 suggestions and objections from citizens

For the revised plan released in May 2016, the BMC received 84,000 suggestions and objections, according to an RTI application filed by UDRI

Implementation percentage of previous DPs

DP 1991: 33%

DP 1964: 18%

Rs14.15 lakh crore: Estimated cost of DP 2034

A saga of delays

February 2015: The BMC released the draft Development Plan (DP) 2014-34 after working on it for three years. For the next two months, the civic body was at the receiving end for errors in the draft

April 2015: CM Devendra Fadnavis ordered a revision of the draft plan within four months. Ajoy Mehta succeeded Sitaram Kunte as the civic commissioner

May 2015: Ramanath Jha, a retired bureaucrat, was appointed to re-draft the plan. The BMC also decided to do away with the private consultants appointed to prepare the plan earlier. While the revised draft was supposed to be published by August 21, 2015, the BMC sought two extensions. It also appointed urban planners for each of the 24 wards to rectify the errors

October 2015: The BMC decided to revise the plan in four different phases covering development control regulations, plot reservations, erroneous naming and designation of locations and roads. Citizens were asked to submit their ‘observations’ to the different parts.

May 2016: The revised draft development plan (now called RDDP-2034) was released with a 60-day window for citizens to submit their suggestions and objections

July 2016: The BMC ruling party Shiv Sena postponed the formation of a planning committee which will hear objections to the DP. It was formed in October

December 2016: The committee completed its proceedings with an extension. It later demanded another extension till March 7, 2016 under the pretext of code of conduct and elections.

The draft is now expected to be passed by the general body by March 20, 2017, after a delay of four years