The city is on the verge of losing more open spaces. Four plots were reserved as open spaces but the civic body did not complete the process of buying them.
The plots had been reserved in the development plan for recreation, gardens and housing for the poor in Dahisar and Juhu Vile Parle Development Scheme (JVPD). The BMC is on the verge of allegedly gifting prime plots reserved for gardens, recreation and housing for the poor worth more than Rs 1,000 crore in the western suburbs to plot owners, who would earn much more money on them once they are up for development.
The owners of these plots had issued a purchase notice for these plots, asking the BMC to either develop the plot or allow development. The purchase notices had been issued to the BMC in January. “The mayor delayed them so that they automatically get lapsed after six months and the owner could convert them into residential properties,” said Congress corporator Upendra Doshi on Thursday.
“The topic moved to the general body agenda and it was about to lapse on July 4. The Shiv Sena wanted to scuttle the business of Thursday’s general body meeting too. We objected and got the issue in the limelight. The BMC has cleared one plot but the other three are on the waiting list,” Doshi said.
The next meeting is on August 2 and the BMC will have to clear it then, before it lapses on August 4. “The agenda was ignored deliberately to favour the plot owners so that builders could develop it as residential complex, allowing transactions of hundreds of crore rupees," Congress leader Upendra Joshi said. "This will be harmful for two reasons.
One, the city will lose open spaces and second, it will add to the burden on the existing infrastructure. "Developing these plots into residential complexes will mean tampering with the development plan of the area. This will turn the entire area into chaotic mess," Doshi added.
Opposition leader Rajhans Singh said the BJP is not supporting Sena on this issue. “The mayor is doing this to favour private builders and owners.” Mayor Shraddha Jadhav refuted the allegations.
“The plots have a number of slums on them and if we buy these plots to develop recreation grounds, what would we do with the slumdwellers? We can let go of these plots as there are smaller parks in the vicinity of these plots,” she said.
Civic activist and AGNI coordinator GR Vora said, "The BMC should immediately take over development of the open spaces.”