Taking note of the city’s decreasing open spaces, municipal commissioner Subodh Kumar said he will ensure that plots reserved for open spaces are not de-reserved. Underlining the importance of having accessible open spaces in the city, Kumar said rampant de-reservation of open spaces will have to stop.
In a recent survey conducted by the Urban Design Research Institute (UDRI) among 2,000 people across ten civic wards of the city, 60% of the respondents said the city lacks adequate green cover, while 39% of the respondents said they had no public open spaces anywhere within walking distance of their residence. This despite the fact that the city has 2.84 crore sqm of open spaces reserved in the city’s development plan (DP).
Activist GR Vora, who keeps a close eye on the public notifications that the BMC issues as part of its de-reservation procedure said, “The power to de-reserve open spaces should be made a part of Kumar’s discretionary powers and not left to subordinate officials. Most times, plots reserved for open spaces have been de-reserved for private educational institutes, residential projects or commercial projects.”
Kumar said, “If there is an important project which cannot be shifted elsewhere, then changing an existing open space reservation is understandable. Otherwise, in a city which has limited open spaces, such existing reservations should not be changed.”
Kumar’s statement is significant because it comes at a time when the civic body will begin revising the city’s development plan, which will be ready by 2014, and will be in effect till 2034.
“One of the important questions before us is the way to plan our city for the next twenty years. There are a lot of open space reservations, which have not even been acquired yet. Hence, there needs to be more clarity on the conservation of reserved open spaces,” said an official from the civic body’s DP department, on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.