Do you complain about the lack of open spaces for recreational activities in the city? The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has a solution: Long walks across nullahs, rivers and creeks . In its Development Control Regulations (DCR) 2034, the BMC has tweaked the definition of open spaces by counting nullahs, rivers and creeks as open spaces. As per authorities, these spaces can be used as a means for recreation .
According to BMC officials, a buffer will be created around the nullah, which will be developed as green strips that can be used as recreation spaces by citizens. After receiving flak for slashing per capita open space standards, the new draft DCR has improved upon it. In the new plan, 14.96 sqkm of open space will be added to the city and the per capita standards will be aimed at 4 sqm per person.
Civic chief Ajoy Mehta said, “We will create walkways along the nullahs that can be used for jogging by citizens. We are also planning a 300-acre garden in Cuffe Parade that will also increase the count.” The move is a repeat of sorts because the earlier draft DP, released in 2015, had added existing mangroves, water bodies and natural areas like the Sanjay Gandhi National Park under the category of open spaces in order to augment the ratios.
Activists, however, have mixed opinions over the usage of unclean nullahs and polluted rivers as open spaces. While some call it a “tactic” to improve open space standards, some believe it is a good concept provided it is implemented well by the BMC. That is, the nullahs be cleaned and rejuvenation of rivers and creeks be carried out before creating walkways.
Omkar Gupta from the Urban Design Research Institute, said, “The nullahs or the rivers in the city are not in a good condition to be marked as open spaces.” Rishi Aggarwal, an environmental activist said. “This is just a tactic to increase open spaces. By including nullahs and rivers, the BMC is just stretching the definition of open spaces.” But Nayana Kathpalia, trustee from NAGAR, is open to the idea. “We had suggested the strips along the nullahs be developed to increase the ratio of open spaces. This is a good concept provided the BMC creates walkways.”