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Thursday, December 12, 2019

Once touted to become India’s largest planned city, NAINA shrinks in size

Now that the new city’s development plan has finally been sanctioned, it appears to have been considerably shrunk — it is only slightly more than half its planned size.

Written by Sandeep A Ashar | Mumbai | Updated: September 21, 2019 3:43:17 pm
Once touted to become India’s largest planned city, NAINA shrinks in size Thirty-five villages from Khalapur tehsil have been excluded from NAINA plan. (File)

WHEN IT was originally conceptualised in 2014, the Navi Mumbai Influence Notified Area (NAINA) was promoted as India’s largest planned city, even bigger than Mumbai and its suburbs together. But now that the new city’s development plan has finally been sanctioned, it appears to have been considerably shrunk — it is only slightly more than half its planned size.

Planned to come up around a radial distance of about 25 km from the proposed international airport at Navi Mumbai, it was originally expected to be spread over 600 sq km or 60,000 hectare. But according to the development plan sanctioned by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis earlier this week, it will now come up on just over a 334-sq km plot.

This is a good 14,224 hectare less than the 476.24 sq km area occupied by Mumbai. However, it will still be bigger than Navi Mumbai (320 sq km). While the original idea was to undertake urban development of 308 villages in the six talukas of Thane, Uran, Karjat, Pen, Khalapur and Panvel in Thane and Raigad districts, this has now come down to 175 villages.

On September 16, Fadnavis-led urban development plan had sanctioned NAINA’s development plan, which was submitted to it in July 2017 by the state-run City and Industrial Development of Maharashtra Ltd (CIDCO), appointed as the special planning authority for NAINA.

But the plan was approved after removing 49 villages — 35 in Khalapur tehsil and 14 in Thane — that were meant to be developed as part of NAINA. These villages, collectively, accounted for an area of 103 sq km.

In 2016, the Fadnavis government had excluded another 84 villages in Panvel and Khalapur tehsils from NAINA, assigning these to the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) for residential and industrial development along the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. The MSRDC, which is building the 702-km long Mumbai-Nagpur Super Communication Expressway, had approached the government seeking permission to develop towns for raising resources to fund the project.

Even among the newly-excluded villages, the road agency will develop 30, while 14 others have been integrated with the area notified under the township — Ambernath, Kulgaon-Badlapur and Surrounding Notified Area (AKBSNA) — being planned by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority where a higher buildable area is permissible. The remaining five villages have been merged with Khalapur Nagar Panchayat.

NAINA’s plan was also impacted by the formation of the Panvel Municipal Corporation in October, 2016. “Considering the contiguity of the area, the state government is of the opinion that 35 villages from Khalapur tehsil and 14 villages from the Thane tehsil are required to be deleted from NAINA’s revised area and the said area is now revised to 175 villages,” stated the order issued by the government, notifying the sanctioned development plan, implementation of which will begin from October 16.

But CIDCO’s Vice-chairperson and Managing Director, Lokesh Chandra, supported the government’s decision to exclude the villages. “The decision was taken from the planning point of view. Areas that weren’t contiguous or were located along the road corridors being developed by the MSRDC were deleted so that these can be independently developed. It won’t impact the overall character and the plan of NAINA.”

At 334 sq km, Chandra said the revised area for NAINA was “still a big development exercise”.

Modelled as a “smart” city, NAINA was originally planned to house a population of 15 lakh in the next 20 years. But CIDCO’s chief planner (NAINA) V Venugopal said that the agency has already “planned for a much larger carrying capacity”. Sources said that infrastructure development in the new city will include construction of Metro Rail lines, roads and other amenities.

NAINA is the result of the conditions that the Union Environment and Forest Ministry had set in November, 2010, when it gave clearance for the Navi Mumbai International Airport. The ministry had stipulated that master plan and development plan of Navi Mumbai shall be revised and recast in view of the airport development, to avoid unplanned haphazard growth around the proposed airport.

Meanwhile, Giving the new city development plan a leg up, the Fadnavis government, on September 16, also approved the region’s first town planning scheme, which will be undertaken in 23 villages of Khalapur where an interim development plan was sanctioned in 2017. The CIDCO has already initiated infrastructure development in these villages.

“Landowners will now be able to apply for development of their plots in the scheme area,” said Chandra. CIDCO has so far drawn up seven of the 11 town planning schemes in these villages. The rest will also be readied before the year-end, said Venugopal.

Infrastructure development in these villages is estimated to cost Rs 7,400 crore, but the town planner informed that a revised cost estimate was being worked out.

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