DP Plan - Mirror Says: Well Done, Mumbai!
Chaitanya Marpakwar and Yogesh Naik | Mumbai Mirror | Thursday, Apr 26, 2018
Mirror Says: Well Done, Mumbai!
Though the DP has its problems – for instance, the over-emphasis on revenue – it could have been worse if residents had not spoken up.
The good news first. The Development Plan (DP), 2034 proves that citizen activism matters and our voices get heard if we shout loud enough.
The DP released on Wednesday shows that wherever citizens, NGOs, and resident groups joined hands and managed to run a sustained campaign to save open spaces, the government and builders had to back off.
While the Save Aarey campaign may not appear like an appropriate example to quote here because the movement failed to prevent the Metro car shed from coming up on Aarey Colony land, the DP has rewarded the campaign by committing to long-term conservation of the rest of the colony’s forest/open land. That must count as a victory.
The fire department’s hare-brained plan to set up a fire station at Priyadarshini Park too was thwarted by residents who put up sustained resistance, going to the extent of moving the high court when they felt BMC’s muscle-power could overwhelm them.
Priyadarshini Park, in the new DP, has been marked an open space. The residents’ movement against the fire station has set a good precedent, even sent out a warning.
And that is not all. Over a hundred amendments to the DP suggested by corporators, most of them seeking construction permissions on designated open spaces, were rejected by the scrutiny panel only because residents’ associations raised objections.
After the outrage over encroachment of open spaces in the earlier draft of the DP, the BMC conducted focus groups and heard dozens of citizens’ groups. Almost all inputs from them found space in the final DP.
Now the bad news. The new DP, experts Mumbai Mirror spoke to said, is entirely driven by th government’s hunger for revenue and builders’ insatiable appetite for land. Large swatches of open land like the salt pans in the eastern suburbs and acres of No Development Zones (NDZs) have been opened up for development for affordable housing. FSI for residential and commercial spaces have been hiked, paving the way for taller buildings, higher population density and congestion. Questions are also being raised on who can afford these ‘affordable houses’ since the city has the example of mill land redevelopment before it.
But citizen groups must see this as a challenge and start girding for bigger fights. More open spaces will be under attack and newer proposals to fatten builders’ bank balances will be made. While builders and developers have reasons to welcome the DP, citizen groups too can allow themselves a smile. Bring it on!
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