Updated: February 5, 2021 9:52:28 am
The proposal made by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, the country’s richest municipal body, to be made the sole planning authority of a megapolis like Mumbai stems from the ruling Shiv Sena’s desire to maintain its grip on the city.
Why is BMC requesting the state government to make a single planning authority?
As of now, apart from BMC, there are other planning authorities such as Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA), Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA), Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) and Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) looking into Mumbai city. These planning authorities have been entrusted with the task of planning and carrying out development in their respective jurisdictions. BMC does not have any control over these authorities and their development works despite the fact that it provides all infrastructure facilities such as water supply, sewerage facility, roads, street lights and solid waste management in their areas.
“This leads to loss of revenue to BMC and citizens have to suffer in case of any obstacle that may arise in the infrastructural facilities. The citizens are unable to get solutions as there are multiple planning authorities. As such, it is felt necessary and advisable that MCGM should be the Single Planning Authority which will facilitate speedy development and also solve the problems with regard to infrastructural facilities of citizens residing in these layouts, under one roof,” said IS Chahal, BMC chief while presenting the civic body’s annual budget.
Other planning authorities and their role
The MMRDA carries out major infrastructure projects such as metro line projects, flyovers, water supply schemes, environmental works such as Mithi River development and regional landfill sites with others.
While MHADA deals with all housing projects in the city, the slum rehabilitation projects are regulated by the SRA.
The MSRDC is the road expert agency that has built the Mumbai-Pune Expressway and Bandra-Worli Sea Link and is currently building the 700-km Samrudhi Corridor connecting Mumbai and Nagpur. MIDC and MbPT also have certain jurisdiction in the city.
All these agencies are controlled by the state government while the MbPT is controlled by the union government.
How have these planning authorities gained prominence?
The MMRDA, which has been executing the highest number of metro rail projects in Mumbai Metropolitan Region, gained prominence in the early 2000s after the then Congress-NCP government led by chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh assigned key projects to it. Soon, it became the prominent agency for all the major infrastructure projects in the city and Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
According to a 2012 existing land use report for Mumbai, about 9 per cent of Mumbai’s landmass — 41.69 sq km out of 476.24 sq km — already existed as a special planning zone, which remained out of the ambit of the city’s overall development plan. In 2018, CM Devendra Fadnavis led Urban Development department had first carved out 960 hectare of prime land in South Mumbai, making the Mumbai Port Trust special planning authority. Later, the MMRDA was accorded the same status for land acquired for various Metro carsheds, construction and routes.
Why is the Shiv Sena keen on a single planning authority?
Even though the Sena expanded base outside Mumbai, it’s might and focus has been on Mumbai only and its control over BMC is crucial for its survival.
The Shiv Sena has been ruling the BMC since the 1970s except for some interruptions and has been exercising its power over the city through various agitations, protests and bandhs. With other planning authorities gaining prominence in the city, the resultant downsizing of the BMC’s power that also had an impact on the Sena’s clout in the city.
Now, by proposing the BMC as a single planning authority, the Shiv Sena hopes to regain control over all the development activities in the city. Sena leaders say it would help in resolving the issues faced by the people across the city. “Now, the civic issues are resolved by the BMC immediately. But, the issues of MHADA buildings, SRA and others take a lot of time to resolve the issues making people suffer,” said a Sena leader.
Another Sena leader said these planning authorities have separate budgetary provisions in carrying the development works. “Despite the funds, the issues remain unresolved for a long time. If all these funds are given to a single planning authority, it can be utilised accordingly for all the areas. It will make things easier for the people,” the leader added.
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