Development plan was defective, say Mumbaikars

Cancelled DP was in public domain and people were able to comment on it

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Geetanjali Minhas | April 22, 2015 | Mumbai


#mumbai development plan   #BMC   #devendra fadnavis  

Heeding the concerns expressed by citizens, urban planners, politicians and eminent personalities, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has cancelled the development plan for Mumbai, and it has been welcomed by Mumbaikars.

“The development plan was congenitally defective  as the very basis of  land mapping  was  flawed and will now have to done on new footing,” said activist and environmental journalist Darryl D'Monte.

READ:
Civil society forces Maharashtra govt to scrap Mumbai plan

The chairman emeritus of the Forum of Environmental Journalists in India (FEJI) and founder president of the International Federation of Environmental Journalists (IFEJ) said “most surprisingly  the DP has made no mention of 1800 acres of port land. The port land is to serve as transit node for people living on eastern coast.”

Omkar Gupta, director, public forum and projects, Urban Design Research Institute says “there were serious problems with the DP. Suggestions and objections they have received should be the starting point and seriously considered. Correcting   small, arithmetical errors in maps and plans is not the issue. There are fundamental problems in the DP like FSI, non mapping of slums in detail, improper layout of roads.”

READ: How not to prepare a development plan

Transport expert Ashok Datar said that though the DP has some very good ideas, it acknowledged that space was the most important factor in Mumbai  and  recognised public, private and  vertical  spaces. “It sought to remove  vertical ambiguity by deciding on FSI with  clarity in a explicit manner . For the first time in history  it was put out for public discussion, which is true democracy, albeit   mistakes, pressures and errors. I would presume it comes out with maximum amendments and  uses new technology like GIS and Google to correctly identify  land.”

Datar  felt that in a similar fashion to  DP for land use, planning  authorities  must publish  comprehensive mobility plan (CMP)  which will include transport network of  railways , buses,  taxis, auto rickshaws, walking and cycling.

BC Khatua , project director of Mumbai Transformation Support Unit (MTSU) a government think tank said that the  DP will not be scrapped but mistakes will be rectified. Acknowledging that the DP had many inconsistencies and mistakes, Khatua  explained that in its normal process BMC goes through the suggestions  and objections, brings in changes  and submits to the government for approval, without informing  what changes have been brought in.

“Instead now, with the draft  DP being  cancelled  it will be corrected, modified and redrafted and once again put out for public objections and suggestions. So people are reassured that it will be not be bypassed.” Khatua said that unlike 20 years back, now people are technologically empowered and mistakes can be easily recognised.

Niranjan Hiranandani, chairman and managing director of Hiranandani Constructions said  that  government has recognised that there are too many mistakes in the plan and it needs to be reconsidered and  redone.

“One has to remember that the plan is for 20 long years. It is not only about FSI which can be increased or fungible FSI or TDR  but the city requires a good plan with vision and infrastructure which has not happened. How and for what you use the FSI and its cost are important to consider.” Illustrating with an example, Hiranandani said the pricing of FSI has been so flawed that no one can  buy a flat  costing  Rs 10,000 per sqft even in Borivail or Dahisar.  “Every city in the world has some great things. The British made central and western railway, airport, port, the Bombay High  Court, the Gateway of India and so many beautiful buildings in south Bombay which are now heritage . What is your vision for Mumbai?”

“We hope that the DP will have  a vision for Mumbai – greater and better and takes cognisance for affordable housing in the new plan’ he said.

Hamara Shehar Vikas Niyojan, Abhiyan, a NGO, which has consistently pointed out mapping mistakes and absence of provisions  for low cost housing and public areas in the draft DP said that the state government must clearly state  from which stage it will be revised and assist the civic body. It said that the state can ask for reservations for public housing to be executed under MHADA,give alternatives to the failed SRA schemes for slums,take a decisive step on including  Special Planning Areas (SPAs) into the DP,  provide details of urban villages and their land revenue records for their mapping and reconsider the much opposed coastal road, an initiative of the state government.

Former state chief secretary, DM Sukhtankar said  “the DP had numerous  mistakes and omissions. Many strategies and policies in draft DP were faulty. Besides removing omissions and correcting mistakes it will have to consider aspirations of people- like acute shortage of affordable housing, open space deficiencies and rectify so many other mistakes. The ball will be in the court of BMC to deploy its large staff to correct all factual errors using technology. Meanwhile planners and thinkers can look at policies and strategies pointed and consider possible fresh approaches.”

Nitin Kareer, Principal Secretary Urban Development Department said that as per the directive issued, it clearly states that the day the revised draft is published, the gazette notification of February 24 announcing the publication of the draft DP will be cancelled automatically. Citizens can continue sending in their objections and suggestions till April 25. “When the revised draft DP is published, citizens will again be given the mandatory period (of 60 days) to submit their objections and suggestions, he  said.

BMC,additional municipal commissioner, SVR Srinivas said, “we have not received the orders, but once the order is received, government directions will be binding on us”.
 

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