Your city is all set to get eight more open spaces plots - totalling 67,000 square metres - which translates into roughly nine football fields put together. This, however, has come at a steep cost.
After having waited for nearly 20 years since the plots got reserved, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had to pay Rs290 crore to acquire them, after the owners sent the civic body a one-year ultimatum.
The reservations have been in effect ever since the city's Development plan (DP) was revised in 1991. The money spent could have been a lot less, had the civic body moved to acquire these plots earlier.
This decision was taken by the civic improvements committee, which clears issues regarding civic land holdings, in a meeting held last Wednesday.
Six out of the eight plots are located in the western suburbs and lie in prime locations like Juhu and Oshiwara. These plots, when further sub-divided according to their reservations, will translate into four new recreation grounds, three play grounds, and two gardens.
These plots were purchased after their owners had sent the BMC purchase notices last year, asking it to acquire these plots or risk losing them forever.
Dr Ram Barot, chairman, improvements committee said: "The city is in dire need of more open spaces. These plots lie in areas which have been commercially exploited to the hilt. Hence, the need for open spaces in such areas is heightened."
Many of these plots, however, have structures existing on them, a problem which many say will worsen once the BMC acquires the plots formally. Congress corporator and member of the improvements panel Mohsin Haider said: "The acquisition of these plots is a welcome move. However, the BMC needs to focus on ensuring they are protected, once they have been acquired. The civic body has no mechanism in place to ensure that there are no fresh encroachments on these plots."
While the civic body has included the cost of rehabilitating those using the structures, Haider said it needs to speed up the process of rehabilitating them.
Dr Barot said: "These plots have encroachments on them, but that shouldn't be a reason for us to not acquire them. We have set aside funds to ensure that these people are rehabilitated."