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BMC wants land use survey verified

mumbai Updated: Oct 20, 2012 00:48 IST
Kunal Purohit
Kunal Purohit
Hindustan Times
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Worried about the reduction in Mumbai’s environmental features despite the city’s apparent growth in size, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation is planning to appoint a Nagpur-based government body to verify the civic body’s existing land use (ELU).

In its September 13 edition, HT had reported how the ELU survey showed that even though the city had grown 20 sq km in size, there was a marked reduction in mangroves, salt pans and other environmental features, as compared to the civic body’s own 1991 Development Plan (DP).

Concerned by this, the BMC is planning to approach the regional remote sensing service (RRSS) in Nagpur to verify the findings. “We are consulting the RRSS in Nagpur to use their maps and verify this increase in the city’s size, with the decrease in its environmental features,” said civic chief Sitaram Kunte.

He added that the RRSS will be using its maps to compare the imagery with that of the ELU.

An insider in the Groupe SCE India Private Ltd, which prepared the ELU, said that the increase in the city’s size is because the consortium had used modern satellite imagery to map the city, while the previous maps relied on records maintained by the revenue department. “As a result, we included areas like mudflats, beaches as well as other coastal areas which had never been mapped before.”

However, the increase in the city’s land mass has invited scepticism. “The Union ministry of environment has clearly said that intertidal lands cannot be counted as being part of the landmass. One opinion is that this ‘addition’ and the subsequent decrease in environmental features has been done to legalise the illegal occupation or reclamation done at various places along the coastline,” said an urban planner, who did not wish to be named.

Over the past one month, HT has published a series of reports highlighting the discrepancies and mistakes found in the ELU survey by the city-based Urban Design Research Institute.

The survey, conducted by a BMC-appointed consultant, has classified land use across the city and will form the basis of the new DP, which will come into effect in 2014.