As the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) struggles to acquire plots earmarked for open spaces, officials said they had no data about the number of such plots encroached upon in the past few years.
A senior civic official said on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media: “We can acquire plots through the Land Acquisition Act, wherein we pay the owners 30% more than the market rate. Or, we can enter into an agreement with the owners. This is difficult because agreement on rates is rare. Finally, we can acquire plots in exchange for transfer of development rights (TDR). Again, plot owners could lose money because of the disparity in rates of the plot and the place where the TDR is given. Since none of the options are feasible to the owners, the BMC fails to acquire the plots on time. Also, most of these plots are encroached upon, as a result of which we are forced to provide the encroachers alternative housing. This complicates matters.”
Additional Municipal Commissioner Aseem Gupta and Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Gardens) Chandrashekhar Rokade were out of town and unavailable for comment. R Kuknur, chief engineer, Development Plan Department, also did not respond to several phone calls and text mesages.
Standing Committee — a group of corporators which rule on all BMC spends upwards of Rs 10 lakh — Chairman Rahul Shewale said there were many hurdles in the way of acquisition of plots. “There are ownership issues. If a government agency owns the plot, it is more problematic. Even these agencies demand market rates,”
The revision of the DP — a blueprint of urban development will start soon and might offer a solution. “It will give us concrete statistics about the status of the reserved plots,” said an official of the DP Department.