The battle to save the city’s open spaces is set to intensify. In the revised Development Control Regulations (DCR) for Mumbai, raking up a controversy, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has proposed to permit building of homes on a portion of private lands that are reserved for open spaces.
The proposed new rule stipulates that if owners of such lands develop the reservation on 70% of the reserved land and hand it over to the municipality, then they will carry the entire development potential of the land and can build homes on the remaining 30%.
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Existing norms limit incentive FSI on private reserved plots to buildable reservations such as schools, markets, dispensaries, etc. But the revised regulations has now proposed to extend the policy, which is also known as accommodation reservation, even to non-buildable reservation, such as gardens, parks, playgrounds, and recreational grounds.
The new development plan has marked lands totalling 5,160 hectares in Mumbai towards public open space. Several of these have been marked on private lands. The per capita open space available in the city currently is just 1.24 square metre.
The BMC’s logic is that the new rule will better Mumbai’s record of developing open spaces reserved in the development plan and protect some of these from encroachments, but the move raises suspicion that it may end up benefitting private owners and rob the city of open spaces. Activists have already raised red flag over another contentious regulation that permit construction on 30 per cent of encroached open spaces. Ironically, the BMC had earlier positioned that it won’t permit any construction on lands reserved for public open spaces.
Justifying the move, civic officials have argued that the existing norms mandate the civic body to acquire lands reserved for open spaces. Unable to infuse funds required to get all the reserved spaces resulted in the implementation of the existing development plan, an official said.
Current norms permit owners of such reserved lands to serve purchase notices on the municipality if the reservation isn’t developed within ten years of it being placed in the development plan. Norms are that if the municipality fails to acquire the land within one year of
such a notice, then the reservation is deemed to have lapsed and the land is released for