The civic body’s plans to allow construction on Mumbai’s last few stretches of salt pans would mean disaster for the city, say citizens groups and environmentalists.
“If they go ahead with their plan, the city is doomed. It will mean more 26/7-like disasters in the city,” said environmentalist Nahar Singh.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is drawing up a revised Development Plan — a blueprint for the city’s development — for Mumbai for 2014-2034.
The plan suggests opening salt pan land — currently marked no-development zones — for commercial development.
These tracts are natural sponges that absorb excess water during high tide, which would otherwise have entered the city as it did during the 26/7 flood disaster. “This will mean irrevocable damage to the environment,” said Vidya Vaidya, a member of NGO Citispace.
Activists also say the BMC’s latest move will benefit Mumbai’s construction lobby, which has been pushing for the city’s last remaining open spaces to be opened for development.
Congress corporator Sameer Desai said: “The BMC seems to be succumbing to pressure from the builder lobby. They should refrain from doing anything that will adversely affect the city’s ecological balance.”
“Without an environmental study, the BMC makes such absurd announcements — it is under pressure from the builder lobby,” said city-based environmentalist Rishi Agrawal. The saltpans are spread over 6,000 acres in the suburbs, mainly the eastern suburbs.
Acting Municipal Commissioner R.A. Rajeev said: “We are thinking of opening up the salt pans. Permissions from the Centre will be worked out once we decide on it.”
Also, while promoting construction on the city’s natural buffer zones, the BMC also wants the creation of artificial open spaces.