Civil society forces Maharashtra govt to scrap Mumbai plan

Development plan for Mumbai growth was at the cost of green zones and heritage structures

GN Bureau | April 21, 2015




So strong was the civil society protest against Mumbai’s new development plan that the Maharashtra did not wait till Saturday (the last day for filing objections to it), but scrapped it on Tuesday.

The Mumbai Development Plan (DP) 2034 was released on February 16 and it had been strongly opposed by citizens, including politicians and film actors, who normally are reticent about civic affairs.

The cabinet headed by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis took the decision on Tuesday.  The state government had invited feedback on the draft development plan till Saturday. But even before that, Fadnavis announced that it was being scrapped. He has ordered a new plan within four months.

READ: How not to prepare a development plan

The government was inundated with complaints against the DP, especially existing land use (ELU), reservation and floor space index (FSI). The plan for Mumbai called for development at the cost of green zones and heritage structures.

Last week, residents of Mumbai's affluent Pali Hill held a silent protest against the proposal to allow hawkers to set up shop on footpaths.

Film stars Aamir Khan, Salman Khan and Farhan Akhtar were among those who joined Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray in opposing the plan.

In the plan, Aarey Colony with has over 2,000 hectares of green cover, was listed in the plan not as a forest but as a growth centre. Incidentally, on the periphery of the Aarey Colony is Film City, where shooting for films and TV shows is held.

Architects and planners had called the plan "irrelevant" to the needs and aspirations of Mumbai residents. They were against the proposed increase in the FSI, allowing taller buildings.

According to the DP, the allocation for open spaces, education and healthcare service has been reduced significantly while no provision was made for the road network, water pipelines, sewage lines and other basic services.

The increase in bulk FSI was linked to proximity to mass transit modes but not indexed to physical and social infrastructure. Citizens had objected to variable FSI up to 8 while some of them alleged that it would benefit the builders lobby.

Till Monday, the civic officials had received 25,000 suggestions/objections. Compiling the suggestions/objections list is a normal procedure when a DP is made public. A committee shortlists the parties concerned and a hearing is held under the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning (MRTP) Act. Based the feedback, changes will be made in the final DP before the notification.

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