The city has grown in size, by 20 sq km of land, if the latest civic study is to be believed. The survey to map the city’s existing land use (ELU) shows that Mumbai has grown from 438 sq km (as per the 1991 development plan) to 457.17 sq km - the equivalent of 11 Oval Maidans have been added to the city.
These figures are part of the ELU survey, which will form the basis for the new DP.
Interestingly, this coincides with a marked reduction in the area shown under mangroves, saltpans and other environmental features when compared to the 1991 DP. In its September 12 edition, HT had reported how the mudflats in the city have reduced to 366 hectares in the ELU, from a massive 1,812 hectares in a 2009 Union environment ministry study, which is a loss of 1,446 hectares, or about 80% of the mudflats.
How did the city increase in size? The ELU prepared by an international consortium, Groupe SCE India Ltd, has mapped environmental features along with the land currently in use, something that has not happened previously.
An official, who is part of the revision process, said: “Mumbai’s area has been dictated by records maintained by the revenue department, while the ELU’s mapping depended on modern technology, which includes using satellite imagery. As a result, we included areas such as mudflats, beaches and other coastal areas that have never been mapped before.So Mumbai’s area has increased.”
The official said no land was being reclaimed to add more area to the city.
“We have not carried out any reclamation in order to bring more land into the city’s usage. This survey will help get an estimate of the exact area that the city spans across.”
Despite the increase in the city’s size, the area of some wards has gone down. The A ward, for instance, has reduced from 11.37 sq km to 11.21 sq km. The depletion of environmental features has raised questions over the way the mapping has been done.
“Such a drastic decline in features such as mangroves and mudflats is not possible, and it points to massive errors or large-scale irregularities in the way these features have been mapped,” said Pankaj Joshi, executive director of the city-based Urban Design Research Institute, which has studied and analysed the ELU.