AFTER YEARS of resistance by activists from the Gorai-Manori-Uttan belt, a recent notification by the state’s Urban Development Department (UDD) denotified the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) as the Special Planning Authority for the region. However, the activists remain unhappy with the move as they feel it doesn’t change anything for the villagers.
The MMRDA, which has been the Special Planning Authority for the villages since December 2007, has proposed the development of the areas as a Recreation and Tourism Development Zone. However the activists have raised protests against the plan saying it would affect their livelihood negatively. They had demanded that the MMRDA should cease to be the planning body for their area and its plan should be set aside. The new notification only fulfills one of their demands.
“We have been demanding that both the MMRDA and their plan should be set aside. While our area will not be in MMRDA’s jurisdiction, their plan will be implemented by the local bodies. This doesn’t serve any purpose as the implementers are different but the plan will be the same,” says Lourdes D’Souza, secretary of Dharavi Beth Bachao Samiti (DBBS), one of the groups that has been fighting for the fishermen’s rights in the area.
As per the notification, the MMRDA has completed its task of preparing the Development Plan and it has been sanctioned by the government. It states that with this development, the MMRDA’s work in the area is completed and the implementation will be handled by the local bodies. Manori and Gorai will now be under BMC jurisdiction and Uttan, Pali, Chowk, Tarodi and Dongri will be in the Mira-Bhayandar Municipal Corporation.
Activist and town planner Chandrashekhar Prabhu, who has been supporting the residents said: “MMRDA has made the plan and excused themselves. Just the planning authority’s exit doesn’t help the people in any way. If 99 per cent of the population has raised issues, they should first address them and then leave. Who is going to solve those problems? They just do not want to take responsibility.” Further, the notification states that the local bodies will have to consult the MMRDA for any change to the DP. The activists feel that this will ensure that the MMRDA continues to call the shots here.
“Raising objections to the local bodies will be pointless as they cannot make changes to the plan. They will have to approach the planning body for any changes and this way, MMRDA will continue to play a role here,” says D’Souza.