How must the city grow in the next two decades? Friday will be your last chance to answer the question.
Two months after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) laid out its vision in the development plan (DP), its 20-year blueprint for shaping the city, your chance to point out errors, suggest better options will end on Friday evening.
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 (NDZs), land which was held back from development for decades. It has also hiked the floor space index builders can avail to construct buildings.
“The plan has effectively 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 Urban Design Research Institute, which has been studying the plan in great detail.
For many, the BMC’s move to exclude the slums is the most damaging. This means there is no data on the infrastructural shortcomings in these areas or any plan to rectify it in the next two decades.
The DP has carved out many portions of the city as ‘special planning authority’ (SPA) areas. For instance, areas under agencies such as the MMRDA, including parts of the Bandra Reclamation, Oshiwara, Bandra-Kurla Complex, have been excluded.
The civic body has not marked many important landmarks in the city, especially places of worship, despite the Maharashtra Regional & Town Planning Act, 1966, making it mandatory.
On the environmental front, too, the DP has got severe flak. For instance, the plan has proposed roads on ecologically-critical areas, be it mangroves or green spaces such as the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
According to Stalin D, director with Vanashakti, an NGO which works on environmental issues, the plan is flawed, as it was made in the absence of 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 under water 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.