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Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Govt rejects BMC land acquisition proposal for public amenities

As per the policy proposal, the BMC -- citing financial strain – would not initiate acquisition of a land reserved for amenities like gardens, playgrounds, library, art museums in the DP-2034 if it would cost more than Rs 100 crore or Rs 1 lakh per sqm.

Written by Laxman Singh | Mumbai |
Updated: November 24, 2021 8:35:52 am
The state's move comes as a setback to attempts to increase open spaces in the city, as the BMC will have to let go several plots that need to be acquired and developed as per the development plan.

The Maharashtra government has rejected the BMC’s policy proposal related to acquisition of land reserved for various public amenities in the Development Plan (DP) 2034.

As per the policy proposal, the BMC — citing financial strain – would not initiate acquisition of a land reserved for amenities like gardens, playgrounds, library, art museums in the DP-2034 if it would cost more than Rs 100 crore or Rs 1 lakh per sqm. The Urban Development (UD) Department, however, objected to the move.

The state’s move comes as a setback to attempts to increase open spaces in the city, as the BMC will have to let go several plots that need to be acquired and developed as per the development plan.

The state government in a letter to BMC on August 6 had said that the policy is against the provisions of Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning (MR&TP) Act, 1966. In another letter on August 26, the UD Department directed the BMC to cancel the policy.

As per the MR&TP Act, 1966, the concerned planning authority needs to acquire the public amenity plots reserved in the city’s development plan irrespective of any reason.

The proposal of cancelling the land acquisition policy will be tabled before the Improvement Committee on Thursday.

The state’s decision came in response to the BMC’s proposal, which was sent to the UD department in May for approval.

“The state has said that the policy is against the provision of the city’s plan. If BMC did not want to acquire the lands reserved for open spaces and other amenities, then why were reservations marked in the DP during the preparation stage, UD had asked in the letter, ” said a BMC official.

On March 26 and May 10, the policy was cleared in the Improvement Committee and civic general body meeting, respectively. “Since it would require amendment in the DP, the proposal was sent to the state government for consideration. However, they have rejected the changes. We will discuss the issue in a committee meeting on Thursday,” said Sadanand Parab, chairman of the Improvement Committee. The meeting scheduled on Tuesday was postponed.

According to the policy, citing financial burden on the administration due to COVID-19 for acquiring plots reserved for public amenities as per the DP-2034, the civic body bifurcated the acquisition process into two categories–obligatory and voluntary services.

While section 61 of Mumbai Municipal Corporation (MMC) Act, 1888 includes BMC’s obligatory duties, section 63 deals with voluntary duties. Under obligatory duties the BMC needs to provide services like public hospitals, markets, abattoir, roads, bridges, primary schools, fire brigade related services, crematoriums. Voluntary services call for public gardens, playgrounds, recreation grounds, zoos, museums, and libraries.

The BMC policy states that if land is reserved for obligatory services, then the acquisition will not be affected.

“In case of voluntary services, if the reserved land is full of encroachment and is costing up to Rs 50 crore or Rs 50,000 per sqm, then acquisition can be done. When the said plot is encroachment free and costing up to Rs 100 crore or Rs 1 lakh per square meters, the civic body will not go for acquisition,” stated the proposal.

According to data from the Development Plan department, for acquisition of land for voluntary services, the BMC will have to spend Rs 15,060.15 crore on rehabilitation of eligible residents, compensation and land value.

“If the owner of the land which is affected by reservation comes forward, then the BMC will offer transfer of development rights (TDR) as compensation. Another option is to ask for amenities from the plot owner under the accommodation and reservation policy. However, if the plot owner does not agree, then we will not go ahead for acquisition,” said a BMC official.

Mumbai faces a shortage of public open spaces, and the BMC move would have helped improve the ratio of public open areas to population density. Since most of the plots reserved in the DP are encroached and it would have cost crores for acquisition, the BMC could have decided not to acquire such plots.

While preparing the DP for the next 20 years, the BMC had promised to increase open spaces in the city.

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