CITING concerns over the allocation of open spaces in the draft Development Plan, members of Hamara Shehar Mumbai Abhiyaan, said Wednesday that the draft prioritises recreational open spaces that will not be open to the general public. They highlighted various other instances in the DP where the needs of local areas have not been adequately addressed.
Hamara Shehar Mumbai Abhiyaan is a city-wide campaign comprised of communities, people’s movements, academic institutions, NGOs, community-based organisations, and activists working for improving public participation in governance in the city.
Sitaram Shelar, programme director of YUVA, stated that various aspects of the DP indicated there was a significant amount of interference from the state government in planning decisions. “The coastal road, metro shed in Aarey colony as well as allowing development on NDZ lands for affordable housing are all examples where the local demands and needs have been ignored,” he said. He added that people’s participation is necessary in the planning process of the DP. “The piecemeal release of the designation survey, roads survey and the DCRs is not acceptable as this does not ensure holistic suggestions and objections from the public,” he said.
Stating that their biggest concern is open spaces, members of the campaign stated that in the draft DC regulations, 20 per cent of open spaces is recreational and only five per cent is open to the general public. “There is a clear prioritising of residential spaces which will benefit the builders, but not the general public. They cannot be termed open spaces if the public has no access to it,” said Aravind Unni, an architect planner with YUVA and a member of the campaign. Making a reference to the reclamation of 3,000 hectares in the bay area of Cuffe Parade, Shelar stated that a public open space has been proposed in an MMRDA special planning area, adding that the reclamation would have serious ecological implications.
Campaign members also pointed out that the DP is not inclusive and does not include the slum population. “The BMC is only planning for housing of the slum population who have proof of residence before the year 2000. What about the large number of people who came after 2000 or those on central government lands? The BMC is also responsible for them since they have to plan the entire city which includes them as well,” said Shelar. He also pointed out that mass redevelopment including cluster redevelopment, MHADA redevelopment and BIT chawls redevelopment has been left out of the DP.
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