Identifying loopholes, NGOs seek accurate development plan

Calling the BMC existing land use (ELU) survey "flawed", NGOs have sought extension of the deadline of January 24 to submit suggestions and objections to the development plan (DP) for 2014-2034. At a meeting convened by standing committee chairman Rahul Shewale Thursday and attended by officials and engineers of the DP department, loopholes in the survey were discussed.

"There have been omissions such as monorail and metro yards, nullahs and sewage pumping stations. A method to indicate multi-level land use must be devised and infrastructure such as transport must be mapped. Monuments on the state heritage list must also be included," said Pankaj Joshi, executive director of Urban Design Research Institute. The projection of slums as grey areas without definition was also debated at the meeting.

"These slums house over 60% of population but have not been considered vital to planning. This makes one wonder for whom the development plan is being made". Joshi said. Arvind Unni, member of NGO YUVA, pointed out that 36 koliwadas had not been given their due place and had been marked as slum clusters or residences or not identified at all.

"Kolis are the historical residents of Mumbai and must be given their due place. Consultants might not be able to mark the city correctly, which is why it is necessary to make the process more democratic and participatory," he said. Marina Joseph of Tata Institute of Social Sciences said they had studied M East Ward where 85% of people lived in slums."Some private schools were marked while others were not, some health facilities were shown while others were not. There is an obvious discrepancy," she said.

Three lakh hawkers have also not been identified. "These hawkers support around 15 lakh people. Yet, the ELU map does not acknowledge their existence. The government continues to not provide protection to these people who are mainly workers from mills closed," said Haridas Imam of Hawkers Union of Mumbai. Shewale admitted an accurate ELU map was critical to preparation of a proposed land use plan.

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