Rectifying land use maps could have saved civic body the blushes

  • Kunal Purohit, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Apr 22, 2015 00:19 IST

Three years ago, when mistakes were detected in the existing land use (ELU) maps— the foundation of the controversial development plan (DP) — the civic body dismissed most of them.

Of the total 3,000 errors that the citizens could spot, the BMC said only 566 were ‘valid’.

Two weeks ago, when chief minister Devendra Fadnavis first hinted at scrapping the DP, he had to finally admit that the root of the problem was in the ELU maps.

The errors the BMC officials had dismissed in 2013 had come back to haunt them. The then chief engineer, development plan, Rajiv Kuknur, had said the errors being pointed out were “not a big deal”.

“Even if there are 550 errors that have been pointed out so far by the citizens, it is a very small percentage of the five lakh-odd mappings that have been listed by the BMC. These are human errors,” he had told HT.

After HT reported about the maps, the BMC had issued a clarification stating there was not a single error.

Many experts who participated in the ELU verification said timely intervention by the BMC could have saved them the blushes. “The problem started even before the ELU maps were out, when the BMC refused to map the city’s slums. When we pointed out the errors, the officials had enough time to rectify them,” said Aravind Unni from YUVA.

While the BMC was busy defending the ELU maps, it forgot to read the writing on the wall — the flaw in the way the process was conducted.

The consultant, Groupe SCE India Private Ltd, had not carried out any physical verification of the city and had relied only on satellite imagery. The issue of roads being planned through societies and churches as well as instances of wrong marking are a result of this.

“The BMC and consultant have to be held accountable. While the CM admitted there were mistakes, why didn’t he take action against those responsible,” asked Rais Shaikh, Samajwadi Party corporator.

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