February 23, 2015 2:34:55 am
The BMC, in its Development Plan (DP) 2034, has not only included ‘restricted zones’ such as Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Navy Nagar, Raj Bhavan, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Doongarwadi (tower of silence) and other inaccessible areas in its category of open spaces, but also the concept of ‘multiple use of open spaces’. Under this, the proposed DP allows electric substations, rainwater storage plants, grey water harvesting plants and sewerage treatment plants under the open spaces category. With BMC’s plans to increase the Floor-Space-Index (FSI), leading to a spurt in high-rises, the reduction in ‘accessible’ open spaces would further prove detrimental to the city, said experts. Activists and experts have criticised the move, saying it may not augur well for citizens’ quality of life and further increase health risks.
Although only parking was allowed under the previous DCR (development control regulations), BMC has extended this to other technical facilities under the new regulations, as per the document.
The new blueprint, released by municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte recently, also highlights the scarcity of land in the city, due to which public amenities are not being provided adequately. The BMC has also reduced its own benchmarks in providing open spaces. While DP 1991 proposed two square metre per person (sqm pp) in the island city and six sqm pp for suburbs, DP 2034 proposes a uniform two sqm pp across the city.
Aravind Unni, architect and planner, YUVA, said, “BMC is altering the definition of open spaces. During the consultation process, we had agreed on usage of grounds connected to schools as open spaces so that people can go there for walks during the school’s non-working hours. This would mean multiple use of an open space. But BMC’s interpretation is wrong and unacceptable.”
Unni termed the draft a ‘letdown’ as it did not meet even half of the demands put forth by citizens.
The issue of ‘multiple use’ comes at a time when residents across the city are also protesting against the installation of 4G mobile towers in playgrounds. The civic body recently passed a proposal to construct more than 400 mobile towers in playgrounds across the city, a BMC official said.
Peter Fernandes, a resident of Tilak Nagar, said, “We organise kabaddi tournaments annually in the Sahyadri grounds. When we asked for permissions this year, the authorities told us that this will be the last year when a tournament can be held because they will build a mobile tower at the ground. We will not let the BMC usurp all the open spaces in the city.”
Nearly 1,500 residents of Tilak Nagar protested on Saturday against the move to install the mobile tower. Earlier this year, residents of Almeida Park in Bandra and IC Colony in Borivali had also protested against the installation of mobile towers at playgrounds.
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