Adding two more plots to the fast-depleting kitty of open spaces in the city, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Monday decided to buy two plots that had been included in the city’s development plan. The civic body took the decision in an emergency meeting called on Monday, just five days before the reservations on the plots would have expired, on March 17.
The plots, together costing around Rs6 crore, are partially occupied and were under private ownership. They will now be publicly owned and thrown open to the city. The plots were to be developed as gardens according to the city’s development plan.
Both plots are located in Ambivali village, in Andheri(W). Measuring 625 square metres and 708 square metres respectively, these plots cost the public exchequer Rs2.75 crore and Rs3.09 crore respectively. The civic body has included the cost of rehabilitating those occupying the plots in its price.
Had the BMC not acquired the plots, they would have no longer remained open for acquisition. Instead, rights over them would have gone to the owner.
Newly elected mayor Sunil Prabhu cleared both the acquisitions.
Opposition parties blamed the ruling Shiv Sena-BJP alliance for the delay in acquiring these plots. “The ruling alliance had been hoping that the reservations lapse, so that private owners and builders benefit. If the civic improvements committee had cleared both plots for acquisition in October, why has there been a five-month delay in buying them?” asked Congress corporator Pravin Chedda.
Another Congress corporator, Mohsin Haider, believed that despite the acquisition, the plot would go unused. Haider said: “The BMC clears the purchase of such partially occupied plots. But they remain occupied and are seldom developed.”
Prabhu defended the plot acquisition, saying: “We have not let reservation on a single plot lapse in the past five years and have ensured that most of these plots are developed according to the city development plan.”