MUMBAI: With just a day to go for the city’s development plan (DP) to be unveiled, a political tussle is brewing between the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). And it could result in Mumbaiites having little say in how their city should develop.
For, if the Sena-ruled BMC rejects the DP, the state government may take over the plan, and then the corporators, who are the elected representatives closest to the ground, would have no voice.
The state government had given the BMC time till May 31 to revise the scrapped DP and publish it for citizens to give their suggestions and objections. This means that when BMC chief Ajoy Mehta presents the plan to corporators on Friday, they have only one working day, which is May 30, to decide whether to allow the DP to be published. This is what is cause for the Sena’s dilemma. It has opposed contentious proposals in the DP such as opening up of no-development zones (NDZs) and salt pan lands, allowing development of the Aarey Milk Colony, and reclaiming land from the sea. A large section of the party wants to junk the DP, worried at the fallout among voters with less than 10 months to go for the civic polls.
“We want to reject the DP, as then the plan will be the state government’s headache. So far, the BJP has only covertly supported the plan. They will stand exposed if the state government approves it,” said a senior Sena leader.
The flipside of such a move, however, will be t hat t he Sena will lose all rights over the plan.
“If the BMC’s general body doesn’t approve publishing of the plan by May 31, the government has two options -- to issue an ordinance and give the plan an extension or take over the plan. In all probability, we will take over the plan. Then, the BMC will have no say in what we do with the plan,” said a senior official of the urban development department (UDD).
Confirming this, Nitin Kareer, principal secretary, UDD, said, “If the state government takes over the plan, the BMC will not be able to exercise any say. The state can either appoint a single official or a panel of officials to invite suggestions and objections from the citizens and give them hearings, but corporators and civic officials will have no role to play,” he said.
“The tragedy is bureaucrats will have very little accountability towards the public. It would make much more sense for all corporators to sit together and make changes they want to but not reject the plan,” said a civic official, not wishing to be named.