Having complained about grave errors in the draft development plan (DP) 2034, residents, activists and political leaders have now welcomed the state government’s decision to scrap the plan and correct the mistakes within the next four months.
Hours after the announcement was made by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday, residents started rejoicing and spreading the message among their respective groups.
Pankaj Joshi, executive director of the Urban Design Research Institute (UDRI), a body of town planners, who has been actively criticising the plan, said, “We definitely welcome the move. I think the CM has taken a very qualified decision by asking BMC to correct the grave errors, which would have otherwise caused serious damage to the city.”
Some activists, however, doubt if BMC would be able to rework and republish the city’s blueprint in just four months. “There are a lot of grave errors that need serious consideration. It seems BMC might just consider an overhaul of the existing DP,” said Aravind Unni, architect/planner with the Hamara Shehar Vikas Yojana.
Trushna Vishwasrao, leader of Shiv Sena in BMC, said, “We have always been against the plan because it does not meet the needs of the common man in the city. We welcome the move and we want the administration to concentrate on increasing affordable housing for people in the city.”
MNS leader Raj Thackeray also lauded the CM’s move. BJP’s Ashish Shelar, who had spoken against the DP in the state Assembly, congratulated the CM for taking a step that will benefit citizens.
Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Rais Shaikh has, however, demanded an inquiry. “We need to investigate whose interests is the current DP serving. Will the commissioner resign taking moral responsibility? We demand immediate action against those who have wasted crores of rupees in this endeavour.”
Draft Development Plan 2034: An overview
The dark spots
1) DP 2034 reduces open space allocation significantly in the space-starved city. For instance, DP 1991 allocates 2 sq m per person of open space in the island city and 6 in the suburbs. This has been lowered to a uniform 2 across the city in the new draft. Further, there is no provision for public healthcare, public housing and educational facilities.
2) DP 2034 reduces ‘No Development Zones’ of natural areas in the city by a whopping 6,784 hectares. In DP 1991, Aarey Milk Colony was marked as a ‘no development zone’. DP 2034 marks the large green space as a potential economic centre for suburban Mumbai. BMC proposes development on 1,009 hectares, leaving less than 300 hectares of the green cover intact.
3) Activists and urban experts have strongly criticised the concept of variable floor space index (FSI). DP 2034 has substantially hiked FSI for the entire city up to a maximum of 8, paving way for new highrises. Activists says it is a builder-friendly plan.
4) DP 2034 excludes slums, home to over 50% of the city’s population. Activists say more than 2/3rds of the city falling under Special Planning Authorities (SPAs) such as Seepz, Dharavi, Backbay, Oshiwara, Wadala, Manori Gorai, Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra Reclamation have been excluded from the DP.
5) 70 per cent of the heritage structures have not been marked in the draft plan. These include a majority of the erstwhile structures in the A ward (Fort, Cuffe Parade). Several religious structures like Mount Mary in Bandra and Siddhivinayak temple in Prabhadevi have also not been marked in the plan.
6) DP 2034 has proposed residential-commercial tag for several residential enclaves like the posh Pali Hill and Perry Road in Bandra. Residents have strongly opposed the move fearing a huge increase in commercial activities in their neighbourhoods.
7) Gaothans, koliwadas and adivasipadas have been marked as slums, inviting the ire of residents from these areas.
8) From open space activists to gender and health activists, every group has complained that their suggestions from the consultative workshops have not been included in the plan. This is despite BMC claiming to be the only corporation to conduct ward-level and thematic workshops for citizens across the city.
9) Informal sector of Mumbai like hawkers, weekly market vendors, naka workers, construction workers, rag pickers and many other urban poor informal sector communities stand excluded from the plan, activists have complained.
10) The DP proposes new roads cutting across residential societies and religious structures. It also suggests road-widening in various locations, eating into open spaces nearby.
The silver lining
The DP has tried to reduce or eliminate any scope for manipulations in building norms by introducing a uniformly high FSI regime, thus reducing the element of discretion that is wielded by chief ministers and BMC commissioners who could grant FSI on a case-to-case basis.
It has tried to minimise land acquisition for specific projects by introducing a new system of land pooling according to which 10 per cent of the area of plots measuring 2000 square metres have to be handed over to BMC, which can then put these to various public uses as it deems fit.
DP 2034 introduces the system of two-tier planning, placing an emphasis on local area plans, which will also include detailed urban design guidelines for heritage precincts and redevelopment of slums and gaothans in the city.
Due to lack of implementation of the previous DP, the new draft talks of periodic review. It says the plan will be reviewed every five years to measure the progress achieved on ground.