Open spaces in prime real estate areas are most at risk

The maximum number of land use discrepancies in the recently completed existing land use (ELU) document is seen in open spaces plots that are located in areas where the property market is booming.

The P-north ward, which covers the fast-growing suburbs of Goregaon and Malad (west), has 94 discrepancies when the land use classification in the ELU is compared to the 1991 development plan (DP). Of these, 80 are plots reserved for open spaces.

Activists in the area said open spaces are increasingly at risk. “We have been fighting at least three cases where developers have been trying to capture open spaces plots. This problem has worsened ever since this area became a prime real estate destination,” said Ganesh Belose, an activist from the P-north ward.

The K-west ward, which includes prime realty areas such as Juhu and Andheri (west), has 40 discrepancies.

However, these discrepancies are not restricted to areas with prime real estate.

The L ward, which includes areas such as Kurla and Chunabhatti, has 77 mismatches between the ELU and the 1991 DP, while the S ward, which includes Vikhroli and Bhandup, has 69 such instances, according to the report prepared by the city-based Urban Design Research Institute, which has in all pointed out 1,200 discrepancies after studying the ELU and comparing it to the 1991 DP as well as satellite imagery.

Adolf D’souza, Juhu activist and former independent corporator, said greed for lucrative realty and flawed land acquisition process are to blame for the loss of open spaces.

“There is no doubt that builders are the driving force behind the changes in the reservations of amenity plots. But the biggest fault lies with the civic policy regarding acquisition of reserved,” he said, referring to the policy wherein private owners can serve notice to the civic body if it has not acquired a plot within 10 years of a DP coming into force and sell the plot in the open market if the civic body does not acquire it within a year of the notice being served.

“Such changes and de-reservation of plots means the city will lose out on amenities,” D’souza said.


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