BMC laxity may cost Mumbai its open spaces

Over the past 20 years, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has acquired only 217 of the 1,586 plots reserved for open spaces in the city’s Development Plan (DP) drafted in 1991.

These figures were revealed in a two-year study of civic data undertaken by the Mumbai Vikas Samiti, a group of retired civic officials and city experts.

The DP — an urban development blueprint — is being revised in 2014. This means that unless the BMC acquires the remaining plots in the next three years, the city could lose them to private and other development.

The BMC blamed state agencies. “The BMC controls only 50% of the land; 40% is controlled by state and Central agencies, which refuse to part with,” said civic Standing Committee Chairman Rahul Shewale.

The BMC has acquired only three of the 41 earmarked for parks (defined as large green spaces). Similarly, only 58 of the 620 plots earmarked for recreation grounds (open spaces used mainly for sporting activities) have been acquired.

Mumbai Vikas Samiti president SN Patankar, a retired BMC engineer, said: “It wasn’t just delays in acquiring plots, there were problems in their maintenance too.”

Naseem Khan, guardian minister, Mumbai suburbs, said: ‘It’s the BMC’s responsibility to ensure that such plots are acquired. I will take a review of this in a few days.”

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