Sharp criticism from citizen groups and the media over delay in acquisition of plots earmarked as open spaces in city's development plan has prodded the civic body into considering a proposal to purchase six such plots.
Located in the western suburbs of Andheri and Malad, and reserved for gardens, these privately owned open spaces cover an area of about 4,545 square metre and will cost Rs 22 crore to acquire. A proposal to buy them will likely be discussed by the civic improvements committee on Wednesday.
The need to speed up the process has arisen since the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has already been served ‘purchase notices’ for these plots by their owners. According to the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning (MRTP) Act, the owner can serve a notice to the corporation to ask it to purchase the plot. If the BMC does not comply within a year, the reservation lapses and the owner gets to keep it.
Last year, too, the BMC had to scramble to save three such plots after pressure from citizens groups who allege that the civic administration does not show interest in buying these plots as builders are also eying them. Mumbai has merely 1.95 sq m of open space per person, against the international standard of 11 sqm.
Though the Congress party supports acquisition of these spaces, it has raised the issue of their maintenance and development. Vinod Shekhar, Congress corporator, and also a member of the committee, said, “Since 2005, the BMC has cleared over 50 purchase notices, but more than 90% of these plots have not been developed because of inefficiency of the civic body.”
Confirming the decision to buy the six plots, Bhalchandra Shirsat, chairman of the improvements committee, said, “The decision will be taken in the meeting after thorough discussion. Most members support the purchase of these open spaces.” After approval from the improvements committee, the final decision will be taken in the BMC’s general body meeting.