A closer look at plans for Madh Island’s growth shows how the area will soon be opened up to the mainland, with various infrastructure projects.
This has raised questions whether the draft development plan (DP)’s proposal, to change large parts of the island’s reservation from a no-development zone (NDZ) to a residential-commercial belt, is being done to facilitate the entry of builders into the area.
The new plans for better connectivity, coupled with the sea-side views the weekend gateway offers, and now the civic body’s intent of opening up the land with high FSI, mean the island will become one of the most precious pieces of realty in the city.
Sources said a prominent city builder has already bought large swathes of land in Madh and surrounding areas. With the civic body’s large-scale de-reservation of NDZ areas, the builder may be in for a windfall. Locals add that a similar pattern, involving other builders, is seen across the island.
Two major projects, locals claim, are aimed at boosting the area’s connectivity. The ambitious Coastal Road, which will pass through Madh, along with a recently proposed Andheri-Madh flyover as well as a Malad-Manori flyover, will make the island much more accessible.
“Builders have been taking over large swathes of land in the region by various means. Some have encroached on the land, while others have bought agricultural plots from locals and are sitting on it. This de-reservation is clearly aimed at helping them,” said local resident Kiran Koli, who is also the chairman of the Maharashtra Machimaar Kruti Samiti (MMKS).
A civic official defended the move, saying the de-reserved areas are already occupied. “The mangroves have been retained as Natural Areas,” he said.
Locals and experts rubbished the argument.
“All the NDZ areas were eligible for an FSI of only 0.2, according to the rules. These areas have now been given a massive hike in FSI, up to 2. This will completely destroy the fabric of the area,” said Pankaj Joshi, executive director of the Urban Design Research Institute. Joshi has co-authored a study on the area and the Portuguese-era heritage it carries.
Echoing Joshi’s views, Koli said the DP has de-reserved all land around mangroves, making them vulnerable. “Builders have already started destroying mangroves, by stopping the flow of tidal water. Some have even constructed structures over the wetlands. The DP will just make it easier for them to do so.”