REITERATING THE stance of Shiv Sena corporators, mayor Snehal Ambekar in a letter to the municipal commissioner has sought more representation of corporators in the planning committee for the Development Plan (DP). Even as the Sena continues to delay the appointment of members to the standing committee for the DP planning committee, the civic administration has already conducted a preliminary meeting with the three state-government appointed members who have started studying the DP report.
In the letter sent to civic chief Ajoy Mehta on September 2, Ambekar has sought clarity on the role and functions of the planning committee. She has sought a detailed clarification from the civic administration on appointments of standing committee members and the rights they have been granted. She also raised queries with standing committee chairperson Yashodhar Phanse about who would chair the committee as well as the selection process.
Citing the growing population of the city, Ambekar stated that all group leaders should be part of the planning committee and asked about the amendments which are required in the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act. In her letter, she said “Every corporator knows the issues about the amenities in their respective wards. Since the population of the city has increased, the members of planning committee should also increase and functioning of the committee also needs to change with time. All the group leaders should be present on the committee to ensure that all their viewpoints are heard.”
The administration, on the other hand, has gone ahead and held a meeting with the three members nominated by the state government last month. “A preliminary meeting was held on August 31 and we had a discussion about the process of conducting the hearings. We have given them the Development Control Regulations, the maps and the DP report and they have started their groundwork on understanding the policies in place before the hearings can be conducted. We are now waiting for response from them on the next course of action,” said a senior civic official.
Corporators from other parties pointed out that the Sena’s delaying tactics could lead to citizens losing the opportunity of being heard by their elected representatives. Congress corporator Asif Zakaria said, “There is enough clarity in the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices (MRTP) Act about the process. Sena is just trying to play the numbers game and holding the city to ransom by holding up the process of implementing the DP.” Zakaria said that if the issue of the planning committee was so important for the Sena, they should have raised it earlier instead of bringing it up at the last moment.
The state government appointed the three members including former additional chief secretary Gautam Chatterjee, former chief engineer (DP) Sudhir Ghate and former deputy director of town planning Suresh Surve on August 12 which gives the committee another 35 days to conduct hearings for over 12000 suggestions and objections.
The panel will then have to prepare a consolidated report and submit it to the general body which will get another two months to approve the final report after making changes if deemed necessary. According to the MRTP act, the draft DP and the final report will then be submitted to the state government for a final approval to be given within ‘twenty four months in the aggregate’.