In congested Mumbai, corporators change DP open spaces into construction zones

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MUMBAI: A plot near Bandra Reclamation, reserved as open space by a planning committee comprising representatives from the BMC and the state government to decide on the draft development plan (DP) 2014-34, was designated for government staff quarters and rehab flats for slum dwellers when the DP was at the stage where corporators make changes. Similar was the fate of plots in Mazgaon, Vile Parle and Dahisar.

Such proposals, to get the draft DP’s open space reservations changed into residential buildings, SRA projects or private clubhouses, were received by group leaders of various parties in the BMC house when the draft landed with corporators for the general body’s approval, before being forwarded to the state government. The group leaders, fearing public outcry against the preposterous proposals, started rejecting them, but had to give in to a few pushy corporators.

Consensus was reached among the political parties to place 265 amendments in the draft DP . The only proposal voted on, and rejected, was that for a Metro car shed at Aarey Colony .

A group leader admitted that many corporators demanded changes in open space reservations for person al gain, “clearly visible from their demands“.

The group leaders held a joint meeting with civic officials, where they discussed ev ery plot where land reservation change was sought. The civic officials helped the group leaders understand the plots’ existing status. “Most group leaders decided not to compromise with open spaces to please their party corporators. They showed maturity and rejected most such proposals without any argument,“ said a civic official.

Asource said that no political party wants to invite the ire of open space activists. “Most of the demands that were re jected had to blatantly do with private benefit,“ he said.

Manoj Kotak, the BJP’s group leader in the BMC, said, “Someone included a change converting an open space reservation to a private clubhouse in Borivli by avoiding our attention.

“But we found out the mischief and dropped the amend ment at the last moment.“

The Samajwadi Party‘s group leader, Rais Shaikh, said, “We sat for hours discussing the corporators’ proposals.Once we conducted a meeting till 3am. It was almost like a game, where some tried to push through proposals when others were focuses on something else.“

TIMES VIEW:

Are corporators working for public welfare or for private interest? Our elected representatives owe their allegiance to the city and its people. That they blatantly attempted to reserve public spaces for private gain should come as a wake-up call to all publicspirited citizens to keep tabs on how their corporators function.