The ecologically sensitive salt pans lined with mangroves in the eastern parts of the city may be opened up for development, if the city’s proposed development plan (DP) has its way. This is apart from the 37 housing societies demarcated in the DP across 45,000 sq m of pristine mangroves in Versova.
The salt pans, which till now fell under the No Development Zone (NDZ), have now been included under the Residential Commercial (RC) zone, a move which can open them up for development in the future.
The location of these salt pans makes them lucrative for real estate development. They lie on both sides of the Mulund-Airoli bridge, a critical link to Navi Mumbai. The road link’s significance will only grow in the future, after the Navi Mumbai airport is built.
The BMC has defined an RC zone as one that is predominantly residential, but also partially commercial. According to the proposed development control rules, such an RC zone can include anything from hotels to offices, restaurants, malls as well as resorts.
In addition to scrapping the NDZ tag, the DP has also decided to exclude these salt pans from the category of natural areas. Instead, it has marked them as ‘open spaces.’
Activists and experts are worried such zoning of the land may result in them being opened up for development soon. Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) chief Sitaram Kunte had recently told a gathering that the civic body had scrapped the category of NDZs “since it was a misnomer that it can’t be developed.”