The delay in appointing a planning committee has left the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) with just about a month to hear objections on the city’s Development Plan (DP) 2034. According to a right to information (RTI) filed by the Urban Design Research Institute (UDRI), citizens submitted 84,000 objections on the plan. While the planning committee gets two months to hear objections from citizens, delays by ruling allies Sena and BJP has left the BMC with very little time to complete the mammoth task.
According to senior officials from the DP department, the committee is expected to submit a report on its hearings to the civic body by November 26, six months since the DP was published for public scrutiny.
The hearings are crucial to speed up the process of sanctioning a blueprint for the city. The state has appointed Gautam Chatterjee, a retired state additional chief secretary, Sudhir Ghate, a retired civic chief engineer and Suresh V Surve, a retired deputy director of town planning.
Sena named three corporators for the committee only last week. It was supposed to announce the decision in the first week of August. The planning committee now has two Sena corporators, a BJP corporator and three experts appointed by the state government. The committee will have its first meeting on Saturday, October 15, to decide its functionalities, post which the hearings will begin next week. Even if it decides to work for a full month, the committee will have to look into 2,800 suggestions and objections every day, which is practically difficult. There are duplications, but the committee is yet to decide on the procedure.
Civic activists are wondering whether the committee will go through the objections raised by the citizens seriously.
As of now, it is not clear if representatives will be called or all the people affected will be asked to come for a hearing.
Senior Sena leader and leader of the house in the BMC Trushna Vishwasrao said the committee will have a meeting with the municipal commissioner to determine how to elect a chairman, how to provide hearings to citizens and if the committee has to adopt for a voting system to arrive at a decision.
“We need to decide these things before we can begin the hearings. We agree that we have less time for the hearings, but we have made a beginning at least,” Vishwasrao said.
Sena kept postponing the decision with its demand for including all group leaders in the committee followed by a letter from the mayor on determining the proceedings of the committee. A senior civic official said, “If the committee was not formed then the plan would have been submitted with objections to the corporation by November 26, as per the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act.”
Sitarama Shelar, a member of the Hamara Shehar Mumbai Abhiyaan (HSMA), a campaign working towards an inclusive DP, said it will be imperative for the committee to seek an extension.
“The committee has to hear the objections of all citizens. It would be impossible for them to complete the process in a month. This does not mean that they count multiple objections as one. They must hear every individual who has filed an objection, as per the MRTP Act,” Shelar said.