While the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) claimed that the revised draft development plan 2034 will exclude reservations for development in the Aarey Milk Colony, areas to be opened up for construction has only been decreased by 25% compared to the earlier draft.
In the previous DP that has been scrapped, the BMC proposed that 377 hectares (ha) in the green lung will be developed. The revised draft DP reserves 280 ha for these projects.
Apart from the construction of the Metro-3 car shed, the civic body decided to increase the area allotted for a zoological park by more than three times the area initially proposed in the previous development plan. Of the 1,200ha, a total of 250ha has been allocated for the zoo as opposed to 76.89ha that was set aside for the project in the previous plan.
“We are undecided about the exact size of the zoo yet. We should probably scale down the size from the 250ha at present to about 120ha,” said Ramanath Jha, officer on special duty, in charge of revising the development plan.
A civic official, who did not wish to be named, said while the BMC had made provisions for a larger zoo, it was unlikely to operate it. “We don’t have any competencies in running a zoo. Hence, we are going to hand it over to the forest department for them to run it,” he said.
Activists alleged that while the civic body had dropped plans for the development of an institutional area of 90.61ha and other uses (see box) of 88.15ha (total 178.76ha) at Aarey Colony as a part of RDDP, the said area has been added to area set aside for the zoo.
“The revised construction adds 173.11ha and will reduce the green cover considerably,” said Godfrey Pimenta, trustee, Watchdog Foundation, which filed a complaint with the BMC. “The revised draft DP changes nothing as far as Aarey land is concerned. It will lead to a sharp rise in urbanisation that will disturb the ecological framework.”
The governing body of Aarey too is not one with the BMC’s plans. “The original area allocated for the zoo was more than sufficient for its construction. Now that the area has been increased, it will lead to an unnecessary rise in commercial activities,” said Gajanan Raut, chief executive officer, Aarey Colony.