It’s great that Hindustan Times continuously reports on land abuse and encroachment of open spaces in the city. The Urban Design Research Institute did a good job of identifying at least 1,200 discrepancies, after comparing the Existing Land Use (ELU) with the development plan of 1991 and a few satellite images.
The failure of the civic body to implement the 1991 blueprint had led to a loss of about 800 plots reserved for open spaces. The greed for lucrative realty and a flawed land acquisition process have made matters worse.
Even though the civic chief has reportedly ordered a review of the ELU, citizens have little hope that 21 years later, any strong action will be taken against illegal and unlawful encroachments on open spaces.
The municipal corporation has always been builder-friendly. But it is time for the BMC to compensate the city appropriately for the loss of its open spaces. Already battling pollution, heavy traffic, narrow roads and illegal encroachments on footpaths, Mumbaiites desperately need more open spaces.
— V Subramanyan
We need to form pressure groups
Builders and developers are a greedy lot, always on the prowl to grab any available, vacant patch of land. Apart from money and muscle power, they also maintain a good rapport with politicians, VIPs and bureaucrats. The Urban Design Research Institute had prepared sketches of open spaces on the basis of a 1991 land development plan, but the land mafia has already occupied most of them.
At least now the municipal corporation should buck up to protect whatever open spaces are left in the city.
Activists and individuals alone cannot fight against the land mafia. Citizens should collectively form a forum comprising environmentalists and educationists.
They should prepare a report and submit it to the concerned department and constantly remind them of its progress.
They should also put a signboard inside identified open spaces. This will help in creating awareness among the general public.
— V Venkitasubramanian
Fight for open spaces in your area
The BMC’s lack of accountability has led to the blatant misuse of nearly 800 plots reserved for open spaces under the city’s development blueprint of 1991. BMC officials, politicians and builders misuse the city’s open plots to maximise profits and fill their pockets.
Instead of being mute spectators, people should make use of the Right To Information Act. They should form forums and Advanced Locality Management groups, to find out about the reserved open spaces in their respective areas and how they are being misused. With the assistance of locally elected representatives, people should ensure that these open spaces are utilised properly.
— Sudhakar Shenoy
Reader of the week
When it comes to real estate, Mumbai is literally a gold mine. Not surprisingly, hundreds of plots in the city that were earmarked as open spaces have become victims of greedy builders.
Today, the city has sadly turned into a concrete jungle. Mumbaiites with their stressful lives are deprived of clean, open spaces, where they can take morning walks and absorb some fresh air.
Land encroachment in the interiors are threatening the city’s wildlife as well. How else can the government explain civilian deaths because of animal killings?
Mumbaiites should collectively fight for their rights and question the municipal corporation.
Citizen forums should file court cases to teach fraudsters a lesson. People should not buy properties constructed on lands reserved as open spaces.