In its preparatory studies for the Development Plan (DP) for 2014-34,the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has said the city needs to free up 46.65 sq km (equivalent to over 10 per cent of its size of 458.28 sq km) for health,education,social amenities and open space requirement of its residents over the next 20 years.
The 280-page preparatory studies report,jointly drafted by BMC and Group SCE India Ltd,a 100 per cent subsidiary of French consulting firm EGIS Geoplan,was submitted to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan recently. The preparatory studies compares the existing DP (1991-2013) with the actual implementation and suggests future projections. A DP is a blueprint for developing the city over the next 20 years.
The report has recommended doubling the open space requirement per person to 2 sq m over the next 20 years from 0.84 sq m now. An analysis of the open space availability based on data from existing land use reveals that the open space actually available to the city residents in majority of the wards is a little less than 1 sq m per person, it states. Similarly,for medical amenities,while the existing space is 0.26 sq m per person,the report suggests an increase to 0.39 sq m per person. For social amenities such as markets,fire stations,burial grounds and public halls,it has sought 0.2 sq m per person.
A whopping 2,357 hectares will be required towards open space,education amenities will require 1,594 hectares,medical amenities 365 hectare and social amenities 349 hectare,the report states.
However,the recommendation to even double open spaces in the city has been panned by experts. This reflects a defeatist attitude especially when the national guidelines suggested by the UDPFI (Urban Development Plans Formulation & Implementation) recommend open spaces of 10-12 sq m per person, said Pankaj Joshi,Executive Director,Urban Design Research Institute (UDRI). Even Delhi has open space provision of 4.5 to 5 sq m per person.
The report also suggests moving away from the practice of reserving lands for amenities. Taking into consideration the fact that the reservations tool has not performed well towards garnering public lands for amenities and that amenities have been provided for by the private sector,it is suggested that DP 2014-2034 moves away from reserving of land, it notes.
It has suggested creation of a public land pool for amenities within each ward. Although earlier reserved lands would be marked for various amenities such as health,education and playgrounds,the draft suggests this land pool would not be tied to any particular reservation demarcated on the plan. Urban renewal through clusters and redevelopment have been suggested to augment space. Exaction of land for public purpose by granting higher FSI from parcels is yet another strategy advocated in the report.
However,some experts say the idea to do away with reserving public lands and keeping a common pool of land would be disastrous. Knowing that the discretionary powers are misused and there could be different people fighting for public amenities,the need for all amenities should be firmed up and listed in the new DP. There should be no room for diversions from that, said Nayana Kathpalia,co-convenor of Citispace,an NGO fighting for citizens right to open spaces.
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