After receiving flak for scaling down the per-capita open space requirements in the city’s draft development plan (DP) 2014-34, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is mulling over increasing the space per person by including open plots in larger housing societies and colonies in its revised plan. Top civic officials confirmed that the BMC has begun making an inventory as it does not have data on the number of such plots across the city.
Officials say that the city has many green spaces within gated communities that are used for recreational purposes by the people who live there. Prominent among these are the many MHADA (Maharashtra Housing and Development Authority) layouts and LIC colonies in Santacruz. The open plots or playgrounds are not under the BMC but maintained by the individual societies. A senior civic official said, “By incentivising these available green spaces, we can cater to the respective population’s open-space requirements.”
P K Das, an architect and activist, said, “These are deemed open spaces that must be listed. Recording these will double the open space per capita in Mumbai and protect them from misuse by builders.”
While setting varying benchmarks for medical, educational and recreational facilities, the BMC scaled down on some of its own standards. For instance, DP 1991 allocates two square metres per person (sqm pp) of open space in the island city and six sqm pp in the suburbs. This was lowered to a uniform two sqm pp across the city in the draft released in February.
According to the Urban Development Plans Formulation Implementation (UDPFI) guidelines set by the Union Ministry of Housing, the open space allocation should be 10 to 12 sqm pp.
The city’s 20-year blueprint is presently being revised by a panel headed by veteran IAS official Ramanath Jha. Confirming the development, municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta said, “We have asked ward officials to create the inventory and also look at the number of people each green space caters to. We are expecting the list in a month.”
Activists welcomed the move and stressed the need to increase the amount of open space. Pankaj Joshi, executive director of the Urban Design Research Institute (UDRI), a group of town planners, said, “We definitely welcome the move as the city is in a desperate situation [and needs] to improve the amount of open space per person.”