The Congress and the NCP were in for a shock after the names of the three elected representatives — who would be part of the planning committee of the Development Plan, 2034, — were announced on Friday. The names announced by mayor Snehal Ambekar were Shiv Sena and BJP corporators leading to the Congress calling the entire process “undemocratic”. Two months ago, the state government had decided to include three corporators as part of the six-member planning committee of the Development Plan, 2034.
The committee will conduct public hearings and analyse the 13,000-odd suggestions and objections BMC received for the draft plan. On Friday, mayor Snehal Ambekar announced that two members from the Shiv Sena including leader of the House Trushna Vishwasrao and standing committee chairman Yashodhar Phanse, and BJP corporator and group leader Manoj Kotak would comprise the three who would sit on this committee.
The decision came as a surprise for the opposition parties since they had expected the panel to include at least one member from the Congress. Terming the selection process ‘undemocratic’, Congress corporator Pravin Chheda and others said they will take the matter to court. “They are manipulating norms and have made an unfair selection. It is well known that we have opposed the open spaces policy and construction on salt pan lands and the BJP and the Sena want to remove all voices of dissent from the panel,” he said. Chheda added they will seek a stay on hearings by the panel from the court.
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Last month, the Sena, supported by other parties, demanded that all the group leaders be included in the panel along with the three state-appointed members. Sources within the Sena had earlier stated that apart from two members from their party, they would nominate opposition leader and Congress corporator Pravin Chheda. When contacted, Kotak said, “The mayor announced the names in the general body meeting. We never insisted on being a part of the committee. If Chheda had an objection with the selection, then he should have spoken up during the session.”
Sena corporators, however, stated that the decision to exclude Chheda and nominate Kotak was taken at the last minute. “Our party leaders were pressurised by the state government to include Kotak instead. We, at least, get to hold two positions on the panel while four members will represent the BJP,” said a Sena corporator, requesting anonymity.
The other three members of the panel — former additional chief secretary Gautam Chatterjee, former chief engineer (DP) Sudhir Ghate and former deputy director (town planning) Suresh Surve – were appointed by the state government on August 12. As per norms of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, the panel will have to submit their report on the suggestions and objections to the general body by November 26 (six months after the revised draft of the DP was submitted)