Although significant to the struggle, the scrapping of the draft development plan (DP) is only a means to the end of planning Mumbai better, which can be achieved only if the civic body changes its approach completely, said activists, who have played a major role in the battle.
Nayana Kathpalia, trustee, NGO NAGAR, said, “We cannot rest as yet. The fight will go on, as the BMC needs to understand residents’ apprehensions. They need to seriously consider the fundamental flaws, instead of just rectifying the errors. The plan needs to be reworked with an open mind. The BMC needs to consider the suggestions and objections received from citizens and NGOs.”
“We have not even won half the battle yet,” said Pankaj Joshi, director, Urban Design Research Institute (UDRI), adding his organisation will continue highlighting the demands and needs of various sectors such as education, health and environment. “It is a good start, but there is a long way to go for an inclusive DP.”
The wrongly-marked structures, proposed new roads cutting through housing societies and churches, blanket marking of commercial zones and development in no-development zones in the draft plan, which was published in February, brought people from all walks of life together.
Citizens groups, residents, traders, informal sectors, urban planners and eminent personalities sent their objections, and some of them wrote an open letter to the CM that was published in Hindustan Times on Sunday. Thousands of people, along with NGOs, also protested on the streets to ensure the DP didn’t become a reality. And the efforts didn’t go in vain, they translated into more than 20,000 objections to the DP.
DM Sukhtankar, former state chief secretary, said, “The DP should now be reworked with fresh ideas and policies for the betterment of the city. There was no application of mind for new ideas in the earlier plan. But the authorities have got another opportunity and this time, they should consider people’s sentiments and reactions while drafting the plan.”
Some feel sending of suggestions and objections must not stop. “There are several fundamental errors that need to be brought to the notice of the civic body. This will make the plan better. Basic needs of the city such as affordable housing, good environment, disaster-preparedness, among others, should be considered,” said Rajkumar Sharma, co-ordinator, Action for good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI).