The civic body may have just opened up one of Mumbai’s few remaining green lungs to exploitation.
In its revised draft development plan 2034, the civic body has for the first time not only recognised Adiwasipadas or tribal settlements, but also granted it a floor space index (FSI) of 1.5.
Simply put, this move may allow 27 tribal settlements in the Aarey Milk Colony alone, and several others around Sanjay Gandhi National Park and Gorai to be opened up for redevelopment.
This is along with proposing a metro car shed on 30 hectares of Aarey, and a reservation of 250 hectares for a zoo as an extension to the Byculla zoo.
Green activists are not happy with the move to grant FSI for Adiwasipadas in such natural areas. “There are about 59 such Adiwasipadas and 27 are in Aarey alone. The civic body should look at preserving our habitat, as we are the original settlements here. We never demanded any additional FSI, all we ever demanded was recognition and care,” said Prakash Bhoir, a resident of one of Aarey’s Adiwasipadas and the deputy district head of Shramjeevi Sanghatna, a group working for the rights of tribals in the city.
The BMC’s Development Control Regulation also states an FSI for reconstruction or redevelopment of any property in Gaothans, Koliwadas and Adiwasipadas shall be 1.5 for plots fronting on roads less than 9 meters wide.
Biju Augustine, environmentalist and a part of the ‘Save Aarey Group’, an umbrella body of protesters fighting the chopping of 2,298 trees in the colony, said, “There is no need for any redevelopment, such habitats only need protection and recognition. The civic body, in the first place, should leave Aarey alone and not plan anything here as it is the only existing green lung and should not be destroyed.”