Fears of unhealthy living conditions in affordable housing schemes and poor infrastructure abound
Mumbai: Despite the State government’s enthusiasm, town planning experts and activists aren’t too impressed with the Development Plan 2034. Among other things, they claim it will lead to South Mumbai getting even more crowded and expose Aarey Colony to construction.
Housing experts are sceptical of the DP’s vision of creating affordable residences. Shirish Sukhatme from Practicing Engineers, Architects and Town Planners Association (PEATA) said unless the premium on real estate is slashed, benefits won’t reach the home buyer even if land parcels are opened up for affordable housing.
Pankaj Joshi, Director, Urban Design Research Institute (UDRI), added, “Changes in Floor Space Index (FSI) must be published for objections. How did the authorities bypass that? How is the BMC going to provide for infrastructure near transport interchanges, including autorickshaw and taxi stands? We don’t want a stampede like the one at Elphinstone Road station. They are doling out FSI but do areas like Lower Parel have scope for more? Has the road infrastructure and sewage network improved? If not, how is South Mumbai going to accommodate more people? People working near Metro interchanges might continue to use private transport, causing congestion.”
Architect Hussain Indorewala, who is assistant professor at Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute of Architecture (KRVIA), said, “It’s worrisome that they are creating incredibly high density, especially in the low income housing sectors. This leads to unhealthy living conditions like in SRA schemes.” Environmentalist Stalin D criticised BMC for allowing the Metro car shed on Aarey Colony land. “The matter is sub-judice. The authorities included the provision for a car shed in the DP without waiting for a verdict. This is bypassing the law. Has the government considered what tribals living in Sanjay Gandhi National Park will do for their livelihood if they’re relocated to Aarey?”
Activist Godfrey Pimenta, who had pointed out mistakes in the old DP, said, “According to the MRTP Act, the civic body should have invited objections from every ward, but they didn’t do so. Now they are confusing people by releasing it in two parts. People need a say in everything.”
Officials had spotted 430 clerical errors in the DP before it was submitted to the planning committee and removed them. The draft had deleted 124 open spaces marked in the 1991 DP, but these were included in the present draft as they have been encroached upon. 42 other open spaces that had been deleted were brought back as well. The BMC general body’s suggestion to delete 35 open spaces was rejected. The BMC received 72,000 suggestions and objections during the revision process.