The Mumbai Port Trust has become the first government agency to snub the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s ambitious plan to tap no-development zones and salt pan lands to create affordable housing and new public open spaces.
The central agency, which owns 728 hectares of prime land in South and Central Mumbai, has argued that its own plan for rehabilitation of slums and chawls on its land be considered as its contribution towards affordable housing.
MbPT Chairman Sanjay Bhatia, reportedly, conveyed the agency’s reluctance towards the BMC plan at a recent meeting with Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta.
The BMC’s revised Development Plan 2014-34 proposes to use no-development zones (NDZs), salt pan lands, tourism development areas and MbPT lands to create 10 lakh affordable homes in over two decades. These homes are to be auctioned by the BMC.
Owners of such lands who construct affordable homes or public amenities on 66 per cent of their land will be entitled to FSI incentives on the remaining 34 per cent land. A slightly lower FSI perk would be provided to owners who surrender 66 per cent land without building amenities.
A land development committee for the MbPT’s estates, appointed by Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari, had earlier recommended that port activities be restricted to 40 per cent of the port trust land. The remaining 60 per cent, at least 437 hectares, is proposed to be used to build commercial spaces, offices, gardens, parks, and infrastructure. The recommendations are yet to be accepted by the Union Shipping Ministry.
The BMC has marked 140 hectares of MbPT land for creation of low-cost housing and open spaces. However, sources confirmed, the MbPT has said that its plan to rehabilitate slum-dwellers and chawls on its lands be considered an affordable housing component. The committee has recommended that existing slums and chawls be rehabilitated on a 60-hectare area in Central Mumbai.
Mehta, when contacted, said, “We (the BMC) have agreed on the assumption that homes built on the 60-hectare land will be ploughed back into the central pool and will be auctioned by us.”
Meanwhile, Officer on Special Duty Ramanath Jha, who is overseeing the revision of the development plan, clarified that critical salt pan lands situated in areas falling in the coastal regulation zone and forest belts would not be released for development. “As per government’s latest records, Mumbai has at least 2,177 hectares of salt pan land. These include about 1,747 hectares that are in coastal regulatory zones and forests. We are not stepping into these lands at all. The records show that at
least 430 hectares are situated on developable lands. We have proposed at least 260 hectares of this for affordable housing,” Jha said.
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Mehta added that 10,352 hectares, out of the 13,706 hectares of no-development lands, which are reserved as forests, water bodies, hills, or fall in CRZ-I areas would continue to be out of bounds to construction activity. “We have proposed creation of affordable housing on 2100 hectares of developable NDZ lands,” he added.