Recognising the need for community-level planning of certain areas, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) draft development plan (DP) 2034 has introduced the concept of local area plans. These plans, however, will be prepared once the DP is ratified.
The local plans will address the needs of areas such as slums, transit-oriented development zones, heritage precincts and older areas of Mumbai.
These plans will incorporate independent designs and place-based regulations for the transformation of these areas. Extensive mapping of infrastructure and consultation with local stakeholders are proposed to be held at every planning stage, according to the DP.
While this may sound good in theory, major concerns have been raised as the DP has not outlined a time-frame for the preparation and implementation of these plans.
It has controversially stated that the general development control regulations will continue to apply till the special regulations for these areas are formulated.
Experts also have apprehensions on these points apart from the fact that a lesser-used provision, section 33 of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act (MRTP) Act, has been invoked for the drafting of the local area plans.
“Not a single area in the city has been developed under this section since the Act came into force. What has changed now that this will be executed?” said Pankaj Joshi, executive director, Urban Design Research Institute.
“The processes outlined for the local area plans are as rigorous and time-consuming as that of the formulation of the development plan. The tenability of carrying out this entire exercise raises questions on the implementation of the plan. Why were these plans kept for a later stage?” said
This lack of a deadline for the execution of these plans will impact the slum areas most adversely, said urban planners, as it couples with the civic body’s failure to map the amenities in slums.
“In concept, the local plans are good as they seek people’s participation to develop their areas. But the delay in laying out concrete procedures on how these plans will be prepared shows that the BMC has not acknowledged the urgent interventions that these areas require,” said Aravind Unni, urban planner from Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA).
Unni said the delay in setting out a timeline will mean that provisions such as incentivised floor space index (FSI) under the general DCR will continue to apply.
“There is a need to map slum areas to get the deficit of amenities and other infrastructure. The areas should at least be reserved for public housing so there is a surety on their development,” he said.