July 24, 2020 2:46:43 am
Two state departments, led by Shiv Sena and NCP, seem to be at loggerheads over powers for regulation of construction activity in Mumbai.
Sources said the Sena-led urban development department is pushing for the reversal of a move — made by the previous Devendra Fadnavis regime — to appoint Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) the planning authority for the 114-odd layouts (colonies) it owns in Mumbai.
The department, headed by Eknath Shinde, recently directed BMC to form a technical committee for reviewing all building projects that the MHADA has cleared as the planning authority for these areas in the last two years.
The committee, to be headed by Chief Engineer (Development Plan) Vinod Chithore, has also been asked to scrutinise the approvals granted to some of these projects. MHADA comes under the housing department, which is headed by NCP’s Jitendra Awhad.
On May 23, 2018, Fadnavis had accorded the special tag to MHADA despite objections raised by BMC and urban development department. It had meant that BMC, also controlled by Sena, had ceased to be the planning authority in these areas, while still being responsible for meeting the region’s infrastructure requirements.
The MHADA, on the other hand, was given unhindered powers to draw up land use and sanction building permissions and earn revenues from them. In the Fadnavis regime, both the urban development and housing departments were controlled by BJP.
Now with Sena, urban development department wants restoration of BMC’s powers, a demand that the NCP-led housing department is likely to oppose, said sources.
“The previous government had cited the need to expedite building permissions in these layouts while giving the special tag. Two years have passed. A review is necessary to see whether the desired purpose was met,” stated urban development department’s communication to BMC in this regard. Both Uddhav and Shinde have sounded a go-ahead to the review, sources added.
Shinde’s department also wants Uddhav to scuttle a Cabinet decision of the previous regime to give MHADA a similar tag for 14,904 ceased properties in Mumbai. This decision, while approved by the Cabinet on August 30, 2019, is yet to be implemented.
Meanwhile, Awhad had earlier this month announced a plan to delegate powers of the BMC and the Collector’s office of issuing annexure II certificates in slum redevelopment projects to the SRA.
The carving out of new special planning zones from the city’s overall development plan had courted criticism, with Mumbai’s worsening urban gridlock rekindling the demand for appointment of a single planning agency and an uniform set of development control regulations for the entire city.
According to a 2012 land use report for Mumbai, about 9 per cent of its landmass — 41.69 sq km 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.
On April 11, 2018, just before sanctioning the city’s new development project, then CM had first carved out 960 hectare of prime land in south Mumbai, making the Mumbai Port Trust a special planning authority. Later, MMRDA was accorded the same status for land acquired for various Metro carsheds, construction and routes. Then MHADA was also nominated as the planning authority for 114-odd layouts it owns in Mumbai.
At present, six agencies – BMC, MHADA, MMRDA, MIDC, SRA and Mumbai Port Trust – are tasked with land use planning and regulation of building activity in Mumbai.
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