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DP scrapped, but Mumbai’s roads, heritage structures still at risk

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis may have scrapped the proposed development plan (DP), but the city’s roads and heritage structures continue to be at risk.
Hindustan Times | By Kunal Purohit and Surendra P Gangan, Mumbai
UPDATED ON APR 22, 2015 11:08 PM IST

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis may have scrapped the proposed development plan (DP), but Mumbai’s roads and heritage structures continue to be at risk. Roads can still be built using land owned by your housing societies and church complexes. Similarly, the city’s heritage structures can be lost to reckless redevelopment.

Reason: While announcing the state government’s decision on Tuesday, Fadnavis insisted “the stricter of the two DPs will apply” till the new DP is finalised.

What this means is that if the draft DP has shown roads going through your housing society premises or private complexes, then those roads can still be constructed, even while the civic body is rectifying the errors of the new DP. Similarly, the city’s heritage structures will continue to be at a risk of redevelopment. Since neither the 1991 DP nor the draft DP 2034 mark the city’s heritage structures, those in the proposed heritage list can be lost to reckless redevelopment, according to the new arrangement.

These conditions are mentioned in a circular issued by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) chief Sitaram Kunte in March, which spoke of the transitional arrangement while processing building permissions. “In case the plot is partially affected by roads/proposed road/road widening under the 1991 DP or 2034DP, in case of new proposals or ongoing ones, the higher width of such roads shall be insisted and the proposal be processed further..”, reads the circular.

In addition, the circular adds the area affected by the road must be kept vacant and be handed over to the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) free of cost. The instructions under the circular assume significance in the light of what Fadnavis said on Tuesday. It means civic officials can go ahead with certain reservations as shown in the now discarded draft DP, if they want to.

Kunte refused to comment when contacted.

This would also mean that heritage monuments like Mount Mary Church and St Anne’s Church, along with countless housing societies, which have been shown to have roads through them, could still be in danger.

“The CM has sought to scrap the DP without actually doing so. He has, however, plunged the city into an ocean of uncertainty. Such transitional provisions will affect almost every redevelopment project and tenants of such buildings adversely,” said Rais Shaikh, Samajwadi Party corporator.

Urban planner Pankaj Joshi said these arrangements will also affect the city’s heritage structures. “If the DP has been scrapped in the real sense, then its provisions should no longer apply. However, in such an ambiguous arrangement, heritage structures can be endangered since they have not been protected in either of the two plans. The CM must intervene and clarify his position on this.”

Meanwhile, a day after Fadnavis announced he was scrapping the proposed DP, the state urban development department on Wednesday issued directives to the BMC to start the process of preparation and publication of the new development plan.

The BMC has been given four months to prepare and publish the plan as per the provision of section 26 of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning (MRTP) Act and two months after that for inviting suggestions and objections from the citizens.

The directives read that by using its powers under section 154 of the MRTP Act the government has decided to scrap the draft. The civic body has been asked to rectify the errors and draw the new draft.

“The existing draft will become null and void the moment the fresh draft is published by the civic body,” said Nitin Kareer, principal secretary of the urban development department.

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