Even though the development plan (DP) has put Aarey Colony into a newly created category, green zone, this categorization will not stop the much-opposed Metro car shed and zoo from coming up in the area, said experts.
Of the 1,068 hectares under Aarey Colony, the DP has reserved 34.41 hectares for Metro car shed and 113 hectares for a zoo and botanical garden. Earlier, the colony was marked as no-development zone in the DP, which allowed it to be opened up for development.
The new tag -- exclusive to Mumbai’s green lung -- makes it mandatory to seek approval from the state and the ministry of environment and forest to use the area, thus protecting it from development.
Activists, however, are unhappy. “We wanted the authorities to mark Aarey as natural area and drop the plan for the zoo and Metro car shed. While the members did not commit to suggestions on the car shed, they were positive on the natural area zone. They have gone back on their words,” said Priya Mishra, a member of the Save Aarey group.
Gautam Chatterjee, former IAS officer and member of the DP committee, said, “Of the six members, two Shiv Sena corporators were against the allotment of land for Metro car shed, but agreed to the other allocations. We have included it in the report.”
The earlier dilution of the NDZ in the rest of the city to open it up for affordable housing or civic amenities, however, has been retained. The committee has recommended the current no-development zone (NDZ) category be split into two –special development zone (SDZ) I and II. SDZ I refers to the 250 hectares of NDZ land that was occupied by slums, while SDZ II is the unoccupied land which can be exploited for affordable housing in the future.
A senior civic official said, “Almost 250 hectares of the NDZ were occupied by slums, where redevelopment would not have yielded any benefits. With a special category (SDZ I), we have made provision of open spaces mandatory for redevelopment.”
This, the committee claims, will help increase the per capita open space from 3.51 sqm per person (proposed in the DP) to 3.77 sqm per person. Its provisions are aimed at increasing the count of accessible open spaces from proposed 4,489 hectares to 4,820.82 hectares.
The panel has also recommended inclusion of more than 900 hectares of private layouts (open spaces in housing complexes) for accessible open spaces, in turn increasing the total count of accessible open spaces. However, activists have opposed the inclusion of private layouts in public open spaces, as they are accessible only to people residing in those complexes.