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Thursday, Nov 14, 2019

Mumbai’s development plan: Civic body can use green spaces for hotels and clubs

New rules will allow easy misuse of land; city at risk of losing ecologically sensitive areas, fear experts after DCPR was made public on Thursday

mumbai Updated: May 11, 2018 11:38 IST
Sanjana Bhalerao
Sanjana Bhalerao
Hindustan Times
The BMC initially said it planned to acquire salt pans, mangroves or wetlands for affordable housing, but now it has emerged that it can also be developed for activities such as resorts, arts complexes, golf courses, among other things.
The BMC initially said it planned to acquire salt pans, mangroves or wetlands for affordable housing, but now it has emerged that it can also be developed for activities such as resorts, arts complexes, golf courses, among other things.(HT File Photo)
         

You might soon see hotels, health clubs, restaurants and golf courses in the ecologically sensitive areas, if the city’s development plan (DP) has its way.

The Brihamumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) initially said that it planned to acquire salt pans, mangroves or wetlands for affordable housing.

Now, it has emerged that the 2,230 hectares of land parcels, which has been freed up and defined as Special Development Zone (SDZ), can also be developed for activities such as beach resorts, hotels, motels, restaurants, health farms, water sports, arts complexes, golf courses, gliding, grass skiing, marinas, jetties and pontoons for docking of boats, and swimming pools. This came to light after DCPR was made public by the state government on Thursday.

The location of these land parcels makes them lucrative for real estate development. They are along the Eastern Express Highway and both sides of the Mulund-Airoli bridge, a critical link to Navi Mumbai. The road’s significance will only grow in the future, after the Navi Mumbai airport is built.

Activists and experts such zoning of land may result in haphazard development. “By not reserving the land for affordable housing in DP, the plan might meet the same fate as that of mill lands. What is stopping builders from using land for a five-star hotel?” said Pankaj Joshi, executive director of Urban Design Research Institute.

Municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta had earlier said, “If the owner does not opt for the affordable housing scheme then only 0.5 FSI will be available. The scheme is very attractive and we are hopeful that many owners will come forward.”

Floor Space Index (FSI)  decides how tall a building can grow.

In its DP, the BMC has opened up 2,230 hectares of land parcels in former NDZs and salt pans to create 10 lakh low-cost homes, which will be reserved for middle- and lower-income groups. However, it also says that if the sites identified for tourism development fall under SDZ, they shall be permitted to be developed for the aforesaid purposes with an FSI of 0.5.

According to provisions of DP, the owners of the land under NDZs will have to use 33% of the plot for affordable houses at a an FSI of 3. Another 33% will be used to develop public open spaces, and the owner can develop the rest at an FSI of 3 for sale in the open market.

According to the BMC, per capita housing space in the city is at 9 sqm.

By 2021, the housing need per capita will be 18 sqm to 20 sqm. However, urban planners and activists fear that the BMC’s stress on affordable housing  has sidelined other essential infrastructure — schools, hospitals, public toilets, sewerage, transport systems and even roads. They say the lopsided approach will lead to more haphazard growth.