Calling the draft Development Plan (DP) 2014-2034 prepared by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation a “noose around the citizens’ necks, Rajya Sabha MP and lyricist Javed Akhtar said on Saturday he was prepared to join protests against the plan.
“We need to work together to ensure the government looks into our concerns over the current DP. If need be, we will hit the streets to protest against the proposed Mumbai DP,” said Akhtar. He was among celebrities such as actors Aamir Khan, Farhan Akhtar, Riteish Deshmukh, writer Salim Khan and theatre personality Bharat Dhabolkar who discussed the impact of the draft DP at an event organised by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray on Saturday.
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Insisting that the event was not politically motivated, Thackeray said he wanted to organise the discussion to highlight the discrepancies in the DP released by the Shiv Sena-BJP led BMC.
“If the administration highlighted their plans and gave reasons for their decisions and informed the public about the changes proposed in the DP, then we would not have to organise such events to inform people,” Thackeray said.
The event included a 45-minute presentation by architect P K Das who contended that the DP, with its hike in Floor Space Index (FSI) and Transit-Oriented Development, is “undermining public good”.
Das slammed the administration for promising FSI without allied services, for depleting open spaces by declaring Aarey as a growth centre. “There are over a lakh luxury flats lying unsold in the city, and yet the government is giving more FSI to build more.
The problem is that this FSI is being used not for affordable housing and excludes the around 85 percent of the city’s population that lives in slums, in cessed buildings and is homeless. Moreover, in a city that is already starved of open spaces, a green lung like Aarey has been reserved as a growth centre,” said Das.
The event also showcased the difference in Aarey’s biodiversity as recorded by animal researchers and in the Environment Impact Assessment report for the Metro 3 car shed project. “It is really shocking and distributing to see how we could be destroying Aarey’s wildlife through different projects.
We don’t have the right to destroy Aarey’s biodiversity and should not do it. I think the government should showcase and publicise the DP so that everyone in the city, not just planners and architects, understand the new DP,” said Aamir Khan.