The city’s fate for the next 20 years will be sealed today as the deadline for citizens to send their suggestions and objections on the Development Plan (DP) 2034 ends today.
Two months after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) laid out its vision in the DP — shaping the city’s blueprint for the next two decades — your chance to point out errors and suggest better alternatives will end on Friday evening.
The plan, however, will not be officially sanctioned till the end of the year. Objections will be heard for two months by the planning committee, consisting of three corporators and four urban experts from the state government. Every objection will be given a personal hearing, officials said.
The planning committee will then submit a report to the general body of the BMC comprising 227 corporators. The general body has another two months to approve the plan before it is sent to the state government for a final approval.
The civic body’s proposals have been termed flawed and even dangerous. It has neither marked nor planned for residents living in the city’s slums, an exclusion which leaves out nearly 42% of the city. It has opened up no-development zones, land which was held back from development for decades. It has also hiked the floor space index builders can avail of to construct buildings.
“The plan has left out nearly two-third of the city’s population through its exclusions. This makes the document thoroughly incomplete,” said Pankaj Joshi, executive director of the Urban Design Research Institute, which has been studying the plan in detail.
For many, the BMC’s move to exclude slums is the most damaging. This means there is no data on the infrastructural shortcomings in these areas or any plan to rectify them in the next 20 years.
The DP has carved out many portions of the city as ‘special planning authority’ areas. Areas under agencies such as the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority, including parts of Bandra Reclamation, Oshiwara, Bandra-Kurla Complex, have been excluded.
The civic body has not marked several important landmarks, especially places of worship, despite the Maharashtra Regional & Town Planning Act, 1966 making this mandatory.
On the environmental front, too, the DP has received severe criticism. The plan has proposed roads on ecologically-critical areas, such as mangroves, and green spaces such as the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
According to Stalin D, director of Vanashakti, an NGO which works on environmental issues, the plan was made without referring to crucial coastal zone management plan maps, which define the city’s coastal line. “Many of the areas the BMC proposes to develop are those that are submerged during high tides. How can a government agency, which is entrusted to protest the city’s environment, destroy it? They must withdraw this plan,” he said.