Need to develop Aarey, or it will become Dharavi: BMC chief Sitaram Kunte
Suggesting that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and government bodies are unable to control encroachment, civic chief Sitaram Kunte on Thursday said the Aarey Colony will turn into a Dharavi-like slum, if it is not opened up for development.mumbai Updated: Mar 13, 2015 15:10 IST
Suggesting that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and government bodies are unable to control encroachment, civic chief Sitaram Kunte on Thursday said the Aarey Colony will turn into a Dharavi-like slum, if it is not opened up for development.
Speaking at a public meeting to discuss the proposed development plan (DP), Kunte said, “Aarey will get chipped off easily, if we don’t allow such development. Despite being designated as a no-development zone in the 1991 DP, it saw encroachments. Creating stakeholders is the only way to control illegal occupation of such spaces.”
Kunte’s statement at the Mumbai Press Club, where he was addressing the concerns over the DP, along with planner VK Phatak and Sanjay Ubale, managing director and chief executive officer of Tata Realty, left the activists fuming.
Questioning Kunte’s plans, Priya Mishra, an activist associated with the Save Aarey movement, said, “On the one hand, the BMC says there are not enough open spaces in the city, while on the other, you are ready to sacrifice 200 acres of Aarey for development. What is the logic?”
Instead of responding to her query, Kunte said, “Can you guarantee it will remain open and not be encroached upon in the next 20 years? Can anyone guarantee that? Controlling encroachments is difficult because there are various factors and pressures involved.”
Aghast at Kunte’s statements, the activists asked him why the BMC wasn’t thinking of protecting it.
Activist and former mediaperson Kripa Raman said, “Are you saying open spaces can be saved only if they are handed over to private parties?”
Responding to it, Kunte said ensuring access to the green space, and creating educational and commercial amenities will help protect it.
The BMC chief also dismissed the demand to increase the city’s open spaces, calling it impractical and absurd.
Tripti Amritwar Vaitla, architect with the Mumbai Environmental Social Network, said, “Why are we giving up on creating more open spaces? There are innovative ways of creating open spaces.”