Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday said the government would probe violation of rules for development of textile mill lands in Mumbai and slammed the Congress-NCP government for evolving the norms that “benefited developers” at the cost of mill workers and Mhada. “My government will try to make amendments to remove the anomaly to see how best we can avail the mill land for development of affordable housing for mill workers,” he added.
Fadnavis was responding to questions by those alleging exploitation of mill land by the developers who failed to adhere to the laid DC rules to hand over one-third of the open land to the Maharashtra Housing Area Development Authority (Mhada) and one-third to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for creating additional affordable housing and basic amenities respectively.
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Fadnavis said, “Yes, the government will probe the gross violation of the development control rules under Section 58 (1) for development of mill land.” The previous government’s mill land policies were flawed as it defeated the very purpose to create adequate housing stock for mill workers on the same land. It also remains a question as to why original DC rule of 1991 was changed in 2001, he said, adding, it is obvious the change in DC rules were against the mill workers. “We will undertake course corrections by making amendments in the act keeping in mind the larger interest of people,” he said.
In 1991, the then Congress government had come up with DC rule 58, which said one-third of the mill land would be set aside for affordable housing. The decision to allow privatisation of mill lands came with a rider that one third land would given priority to accommodate the mill workers. The rest of the land would be allowed to developers for commercial exploitation.
It was emphasised that sale of mill land would get the nod only if one-third of the land would be given to BMC for open spaces (gardens or amenities) and other one-third land to Mhada for affordable houses for mill workers.
However, 2001 saw Congress-NCP coalition changing its original mill land development plans. The new amendment said, “One-third rule is applied only to open land in mill area.” Which meant instead of one-third formula of overall mill land, which was to be divided between developers BMC and Mhada, was drastically reduced to just one-third of available open land in mill premises. As a result in many cases mill land was developed but the mandatory handing over of land to BMC or Mhada was allowed to skip.
According to urban development ministry statistics, “In case of 58 mills with 600 acres of land, approximately 200 acres should have been set aside for affordable housing to accommodate mill workers. However, due to Congress-NCP ‘s amended rules, less than 15 hectares was availed for affordable housing.”
The BJP members Yogesh Sagar, Ashish Shelar, Sunil Rane urged the government to take action against officers who allowed the violation and issued occupation certificates to developers.
Responding to queries related to Century Mill at Worli, Fadnavis said, “The BMC had given them permission and land was transferred to Mhada. However, recreation ground is shown on which workers chawl exists. So when the chawl is redeveloped, BMC can acquire its portion for recreation ground.”
In case of Jupiter Mills, there is an intergrated development of seven textile mills under National Textiles Corporation. They have made provisions under DC rule 58 to reserve and transfer land for housing and entertainment park. In case of Phoenix Mills, the CM indicated a five-star hotel has come up on the textile mill. However, transfer of part land for BMC and Mhada is not applicable in this case. Yet, if there are any violations it would be looked into, he added.