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Town planners oppose special powers to Mumbai Port Trust chairman

The chairman, with special permissions, can change the boundary of a zone, permit development on land owned by the forest department, and change modalities for development permission.

mumbai Updated: Jan 28, 2019 07:00 IST
Tanushree Venkatraman
Tanushree Venkatraman
Hindustan Times
mumbai,port trust,eastern waterfront
MbPT released the draft on the revamp of 966.3 hectares of land between Wadala and Sassoon Docks for public scrutiny in December(HT file photo)

The draft planning proposal on the eastern waterfront revamp gives discretionary powers to the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) chairman on a variety of land-use matters — a provision that is being objected by town planners. They have stated that any change in land-use should be opened for suggestions and objections from citizens.

In its suggestions and objections submitted to the MbPT, the Urban Design Research Institute (UDRI), a body of town planners, has contended that the chairman has been given discretionary or special powers to overrule recommendations made by the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee.

“No authority should be given special powers. The law must be followed under all circumstances,” said Pankaj Joshi, executive director, UDRI.

The chairman, with special permissions, can also change the boundary of a zone, permit development on land owned by the forest department, and change modalities for development permission.

As per the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act (MRTP), 1966, any modification to the plan must follow due process of public suggestions and objections.

Earlier, planners had objected to the discretionary powers given to the municipal commissioner in the development plan 2014-34 released by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. The commissioner was granted powers to change land-use reservations.

Dilip Shekdar, chief planner, MbPT however, claimed that the powers were only meant to be used to make the process work faster. “Seeking permissions from the government for small changes is a time-consuming process when people want projects to be implemented faster. The plan will be sent to the state government for approval and it can reduce the powers granted if need be,” he said.

MbPT released the draft on the revamp of 966.3 hectares of land between Wadala and Sassoon Docks for public scrutiny in December. Though the plan was envisaged to unlock the port land for mostly public parks and gardens, MbPT has proposed residential and commercial structures with a high floor space index in the area, which have been opposed by planners and activists in the city.

First Published: Jan 27, 2019 23:54 IST