Activists lashed out at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for failing to acquire plots earmarked as open spaces in the Development Plan (DP). In the last 20 years, the BMC has acquired only 217 of the 1,586 such plots.
“This is part of the BMC’s plan to ensure that open spaces are lost,” said activist Vidya Vaidya, who is also a member of Citispace, an NGO. Nayana Kathpalia, co-convenor of Citispace, said, “Why should the BMC even think of doing that? Instead of increasing the green cover, it is thinking of ways to reduce it.”
In the Assembly earlier this month, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan had said, “The island city has 0.2 hectares of open space per 1,000 Mumbaiites, while in the suburbs it is 1.2 hectares per 1,000 citizens. This is a mere 20% of the ideal open space area. The BMC has been told there must be adequate provisions for recreation grounds in the new DP.”
Principal secretary (urban development) TC Benjamin said the state would recommend that part of the Coastal Regulation Zones (CRZs) and No-Development Zones (NDZs) be used for open spaces.
“Since no construction is allowed in CRZ areas, we could reserve some of them as open spaces. Also, NDZs could have green spaces. None of this would involve any construction,” he added. Rahul Shewale, chairman of the standing committee, a civic panel that okays all expenses greater than Rs 10 lakh, said, “We won’t let the reservations be cancelled.”