Two weeks after the Shiv Sena-ruled BMC presented its controversial development plan, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray tore the plan apart. In an exclusive interview, Thackeray said the plan will be shot down if it doesn’t mean affordable homes and more open spaces. Thackeray distanced himself from the DP saying the Sena was not consulted.
The BMC’s DP has increased FSI drastically. The fear is the city will see vertical growth that will be haphazard, unplanned.
That is exactly my fear. Mumbai is an island, you can’t grow horizontally. There has to be a limit to such growth. The burden of the growth will not just be on the land, but on every amenity. In a few years, Mumbai will have a vertical horizon. Before we hike the FSI, we need to see if there are enough open spaces that are accessible. While you hike FSI, how will you increase the city’s water supply or the drains? Do you have a plan for that?
The plan proposes Dadar to have an FSI of 8. Many have red-flagged it as the locality is crowded.
If this plan goes through, people have to climb above each the other and walk, as if they are playing dahi handi. The DP has to ensure better quality of life. If there are no open spaces left, if you usurp even Aarey Colony, then such a plan has no meaning.
BMC chief Sitaram Kunte told HT they cannot provide more than 2sqm per capita of open space. Is that acceptable?
I don’t understand such arithmetic. All I know is if you are increasing FSI, will it mean homes for the common man will become bigger and affordable? That is nowhere to be seen. It feels like the plan will only benefit builders. Who will buy these homes? Will they be outsiders?
Are you saying there is no larger vision in the DP?
I can see FSI very prominently, but you have to give priority to a number of things. Firstly, affordable homes, then you have to provide schools, hospitals and open spaces. You can’t just build more buildings. Mumbai’s growth has a limit. How can we cross the limit?
Slums have been completely left out in the plan…
The authorities have been clueless about how to develop Dharavi, leave alone the other slums. Many slums fall under private lands or land controlled by the collector, the central government. For us to take control of the city, we need to be given authority over all land.
The DP proposes an economic hub at Aarey Milk Colony.
Aarey Milk Colony needs special treatment. We have eaten away at the city’s land, but now we are also trying to usurp natural areas. What is the point of flattening every inch of the city for buildings? This is not Las Vegas. The BMC should first make a proper plan. It shouldn’t enter areas that it is not supposed to.
Revenue minister Eknath Khadse has spoken up about Aarey Milk Colony. Why hasn’t the Sena been more active?
Political parties cannot interfere in the DP’s formulation. The administration is appointed by the state. In fact, we must find out if BMC was consulting the state. Every BMC chief or additional commissioner are appointed by state.
Do you think the state knew about the DP and approved it?
I am not alleging they knew and despite that let it go. But it is common sense that before the BMC chief made it public, he must have sent a copy to the state. I am not sure, but that is the procedure. If the government knew it, they should reject the plan.
What if the state overrules you and approves the plan?
The plan is in public domain, everyone knows what is wrong. If the state goes ahead, they will stand exposed. I don’t think they will risk that.