The state government has approved the development plan for the Gorai-Manori-Uttan coastal region almost entirely as it was proposed despite several residents raising objections to it. The plan included new road links, pedestrian trails and tourist attraction
The only major change in the final plan that the chief minister approved on Sunday was a reduction in the proposed width of the main road, the only one that connects the eight villages included in the development plan to the rest of Mumbai. The narrow road, which goes via Mira Road and Bhayander to connect the quaint coastal hamlets, was earlier proposed to be widened to 30 metres.
A senior state urban development department official said, “Of the 21,000-odd suggestions and objections we received on the draft plan, nearly 9,000 were pertaining to that road. Many residents expressed concerns about the large number of trees that will have to make way for the road. So we decided to reduce the proposed road width to 20 metres from 30 metres.”
He added, currently the road is just about 10 metre-wide, including the side bays, and is very insufficient to cater to the traffic that is expected in the coming years. According to the state’s projections, tourist traffic in the region is expected to surge to 10,851 tourists per day from the current 4,375, including the resident population of resorts.
“Most of the region otherwise comes under the Coastal Regulation Zone and No Development Zone, so there won’t be much damage to the ecology anyway,” the official said.
As per the plan, of the total 4,311 hectare, 3,078 hectare land falls under CRZ with 45 per cent of it under CRZ-1, the area between the high-tide line and low-ride line where no new construction is permitted. The former Congress-NCP government had approved a part of the development plan, which the MMRDA had submitted in 2012, with the state government clearing the rest of the plan for the excluded parts on Sunday.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), the special planning authority for the Gorai-Manori-Uttan region, has proposed to build almost 60 new road links, widening of 24 existing roads to their full right of way, five junction improvements and 21 hiking trails. Besides, the plan also includes the development of five public parking lots, two bus depots, open spaces and social amenities such as schools and hospitals.
To boost tourism in the coastal villages, the MMRDA has proposed tourist attractions such as a mangrove park near the Global Pagoda, a mangrove boardwalk from the Gorai Jetty Road, developing infrastructure for mangrove boat rides from the Gorai jetty, tourist amenities centres and so on.
Residents however feel the development plan will destroy the ancient heritage charm of the villages, resulting in concretisation and destruction of green cover in the name of development. In a meeting on Tuesday, they plan to together draft a letter to the chief minister expressing their opposition to the development plan, and also their inclusion under MMRDA’s special planning zone.
Lourdes D’Souza, a local activist, said, “We want us to be included under the Mumbai civic body’s jurisdiction and our area to be preserved as heritage villages. The proposed roads will snatch the livelihood of our fishermen. Also, cutting through mangroves and constructing boardwalks is not development. It is concretisation.”
Residents also opposed to the MMRDA acquiring their land, most of which is ancestral holding, to develop tourist facilities, D’Souza added.