While the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority’s Regional Plan for the Uttan-Gorai-Manori belt, if passed, will affect the lives of local residents significantly, not many villagers are aware of it. To address this, the residents of Uttan, Manori, Gorai, Dongri, Pali, Tarodi and Chowk gathered at Uttan Church Wednesday for a meeting with activists.
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The plan was notified in September. Speaking at the gathering, activist and town planner Chandrashekhar Prabhu said, “The time to raise objections is only until mid-January. Yet the authorities have not come to discuss it with the villagers. Worse still, the plan is only published on the website and is available only in English, a language most residents of these villages cannot read.”
According to the plan, the coastal villages, at present in the green zone, will be converted to urbanisable zones.
“While the residents here are not easily given permissions to build more floors on their houses, industries will get permission to build up to three floors. The jobs that they create will go to outsiders, and not to the people here,” Prabhu said.
He recommended that planning authorities should instead consider bringing in sea-based industries, such as fish-drying or other marine industries, which will contribute to the skill upgradation of villagers.
“The villagers should first seek more time from the authority to understand the plan and then fight against it tooth and nail to prevent it from being implemented. If we allow these plans to pass, these villages will be ruined,” Prabhu said.
Around 2000 villagers participated in the gathering and raised slogans like ‘Ladenge jeetenge’ and ‘Chale jao! Challe jao! MMRDA chale jao!’
Father Francis D’Britto, also an environmental activist, asked the villagers to maintain solidarity among them through the fight.