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Development Plan 2034 wants to even regularize CRZ-1 encroachments

Times of India, New Delhi, 21st April, 2015


MUMBAI: The draft Development Plan 2034 is not only filled with errors and significant omissions, but has also proposed regularization of encroachments in the eco-sensitive coastal regulation zone-I (CRZ-I) areas. Most of Mumbai's CRZ-I areas have a massive growth of mangroves which protect the coast from erosion. Mangroves have been declared as forests by the state government.


The encroachments, which have come up over the past decade by destroying mangroves and reclaiming land, are being sought to be legitimized through the Development Plan, alleged the New Link Road Residents' Association. These encroachments have even been highlighted by the mangrove cell in its report filed in the Bombay high court in a PIL filed by the association.


The sprawling Ganpat Patil Nagar slum, an encroachment on mangroves in CRZ-I, has been shown as a residential zone in the DP maps. "Several plots in CRZ-I and the no-development zone in Kanderpada, Eksar village, Dahisar village have been marked as commercial. Several water bodies along the creek that were reclaimed some time back have been assigned as commercial in the draft DP," said Harish Pandey, a member of the association.


The report submitted to the HC points out how an illegal parking lot for tourist buses came up on reclaimed mangroves and wetlands. "This wetland area has been shown as a bus terminus in the proposed DP. It is contempt of court," said Pandey.


Association members who have been studying the draft DP to understand how the area from Borivli West to Dahisar West and Dahisar East will be developed over the next 20 years, have been shocked to find commercial areas marked on the high-tide line. The BMC has even marked public amenities such as cemeteries and community welfare centres in this zone. "There are mangroves and the sea-water comes in here at high tide, but these areas have been marked for construction," said association members.

What has upset residents is that all these errors were found in the existing land use (ELU) Plan and two years back, when the BMC had sought objections/suggestions, they had pointed these out to the corporation. "Not a single mistake in the ELU has been rectified. This has been deliberately done to serve vested interests," said Pandey.


The BMC has proposed a 2km bypass to connect the Link road to the Western Express highway. This road will begin behind the BMC developed Zen garden. At present, there is only a 150-metre pathway here. "The road has been proposed through mangroves and over the high-tide line," said Pandey, adding that the Link road is already connected to the Western Express Highway near the check-naka via the Dahisar flyover and Sudhir Phadke flyover.


Local residents are upset that the BMC has no proposal for mitigation in the flood-prone Dahisar East area. "Such rampant development in CRZ areas will only make us more vulnerable to floods," said Pandey.