The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has not learnt from past mistakes — especially the controversy over Aarey Colony after the release of the draft Development Plan 2014-2034 in February.
Instead of specifying land usages (designations) of Aarey colony, which can protect the sanctity of the area by marking the actual use, the designation survey put online by the civic officials marks the plot as ‘Aarey Milk Colony’. Activists fear this could lead to opening up the area — located along the national park — for development.
The previous draft released in February had proposed the development of Aarey Colony into a theme park and small recreational parks. It was also proposed that large tracts of land be opened up for construction of specialised educational, research and medical institutes. The then civic chief Sitaram Kunte had even defended this move by saying it was a way of protecting the area from getting encroached and becoming the next Dharavi, leading to huge public outcry. The proposed development of Aarey Colony was one of the reasons why experts were demanding a review of the draft DP.
However, even in the revised draft, the BMC is not protecting the area as no clear designations have been given. Amenities, too, are not mentioned in the revised draft. A fire station is marked as Aarey Milk Colony and a government office, too, has the same name. The BMC has marked a pumping station, which is the actual use on site, but have designated it as ‘Aarey Milk Colony.’ In the February draft, the designation was electric transmission and distribution facility.
Even the two recreation grounds are vaguely marked as ‘Aarey Milk Colony’ instead of RGs. This is not a specific designation like a recreation ground (RG) or a playground (PG) said activists and if the sources in the civic body are to be believed, the BMC has no plans of making this a separate designation. The BMC is not taking a clear stand on Aarey. One of the senior civic officials, said, “The citizens will have clarity on this only after the reservations and zoning is done at Aarey milk colony.” Activist Biju Augustine said, “The designation marked as Aarey Milk Colony means nothing and also leads to confusion. This can lead to government changing the designations and opening it up for development.”