Citizens made 10,297 suggestions and objections for the city’s blueprint. The civic body plans to hear these out in just 21 days.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has set itself an unlikely target for conducting for the hearings on city’s Development Plan (DP) 2034. A schedule released on Monday shows how disproportionately time was allotted to hearings from government agencies, MPs, MLAs, corporators and institutions, as opposed to hearing objections filed by Mumbaiites.
For instance, on October 25, the planning committee is set to conduct hearings on 113 cases of MPs and MLAs. Compare this to 921 citizen cases the committee will hear from the S ward alone on November 13, and 1,425 citizen cases on the Development Control Regulations (DCR) on December 15.
After much delay, the Sena appointed three standing committee members to the planning committee on October 7, which also has three urban development experts. The committee conducted its first hearing for the Railways, Public Works Department and Mumbai Port Trust, among other government agencies, on Monday.
Looking at the mammoth task at hand, the municipal commissioner will ask the BMC general body to give the committee an extension till December 16. The report was initially to be submitted on November 26. This, however, gives the general body lesser time to pass the plan, the timeline for which is the end of this year.
“The individual cases are where multiple people have signed on just one issue. We have held objections filed by government agencies and institutions earlier because it is easier to communicate and call them for a hearing and they are well thought about,” said a senior civic official.
An RTI filed by the Urban Design Research Institute (UDRI) showed the BMC received 84,000 objections to the plan. These were clubbed to show that it received only 12,000 objections. The plan was released with a two-month window for objections in May. The BMC also has no fixed plan of how it will inform citizens about the hearings. While officials said the dates will be publicised through newspapers and ward-level communication, there is no clarity.
Trushna Vishwasrao, Sena leader and planning committee member said, “We will take a call when we are get to the citizen cases. If need be, we can work to create sub groups of one elected representative and one expert to finish it faster.”
Citizen activists slammed the BMC and the planning committee’s schedule, calling it completely “anti-democratic”. Sitaram Shelar from the Hamara Shehar Mumbai Abhiyaan, a campaign working towards an inclusive DP said, “The policy-makers do not want people to be a part of the process. What is the point of prioritizing on MPs, MLAs and government agencies when they are already a part of the system? It is the common citizens who need to benefit first.”
DP schedule: Ambitious targets
October 17-24: Suggestions/ Objections (S/O) from Government agencies like Railways, police, MMRDA
October 25-26: S/O from VIPs like MPs, MLAs, ex-MLAs and corporators
November 2-4: S/O from Institutions like Property Developers Association, Practising Engineers, Architects and Town Planners (PEATA), Builders’ Association of India
November 7-10: S/O from NGOs like Catholic Sabha, Hamara Shehar Mumbai Abhiyaan, Bandra Bandstand Residents Trust (BBRA)
November 15-December 16: S/O from Individuals from all the wards