Mumbai/Bengaluru: The Maharashtra government has asked the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) to correct factual errors on land use in Mumbai’s draft development plan (DP) for 2034 and come out with a revised draft within the next four months.

“The draft DP has not been scrapped, the MCGM has been asked to republish it after correcting factual mistakes about the land use within four months. The existing DP will cease to exist after publication of the revised DP and the process of inviting suggestions and objections from citizens will begin once again," said state urban development secretary Nitin Kareer on Tuesday.

A committee appointed by the state government under the chairmanship of chief secretary Swadheen Kshatriya in its report noted several instances of factual mistakes on existing as well as proposed land use. Beside, the draft DP doesn’t set aside adequate space for public amenities while throwing open no-development zones for residential purposes. It also ignored heritage structures in the commercial capital while making its recommendations.

The MCGM published the draft DP on 24 February, providing a road map for the city’s development till 2034. However, the plan came under severe criticism as it suggested an increase in floor space index (FSI, which indicates permissible construction on any plot), opening up no-development zones for residential development, factual mistakes in existing land use and change in reservation policy (reserving plots for public utilities) and also suggesting opening up of 1,287 hectares of Aarey Milk colony located in western suburb of Goregaon that is considered to be the green lung of Mumbai for institutional development, among others. The MCGM has received little over 25,000 suggestions and objection from citizens of Mumbai.

Taking note of public outcry, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on 7 June appointed a committee under the chairmanship of the chief secretary to go into proposals of the draft plan and make recommendations to the government.

Fadnavis, while making a statement on 10 April in the assembly, indicated that the government was in favour of scrapping the draft DP, but said that a final decision will be taken only after report by the committee headed by chief secretary is received.

“A development plan with a 20-year horizon needs time to be honed and researched and if that means a year or two longer, there’s no harm," said Ashutosh Limaye, head of research at Jones Lang LaSalle India, a property advisory.

Limaye added that development guidelines are critical for any city or even smaller regions, as such planning will direct the shape and form they take over a period of time.

An Edelweiss Securities Ltd note on Tuesday said that following the announcement of the proposed DP, project approvals in the city had come to a standstill. “With its scrapping, we expect project approvals and launches to pick up in the coming weeks. However, demand remains weak and only well-priced, quality projects from reputed developers are expected to see traction."

Anshuman Magazine, chairman and managing director of CBRE South Asia Pvt. Ltd, said: “The biggest issue which will arise out of this decision is what will happen in the transition period till the new plan comes in. Due to uncertainty, developers will be unable to launch new projects. I hope that the new plan is implemented at the earliest to avoid further adverse impact on Mumbai’s real estate and its infrastructure."

However, town planners are divided over the state government’s decision to direct MCGM to rectify the so-called mistakes and republish the plan.

Sulakshana Mahajan, an urban planning consultant with the Mumbai Transformation Support Unit, a state government-sponsored autonomous think thank, said: “The state government can intervene in the plan-making process only after general body of the municipal corporation approves it and sends it to state government for its final approval. Intervening in the plan making process before that will be clear cut violation of Maharashtra Regional Town Planning (MRTP) Act."

“I clearly smell a rat here; the proposal for higher FSI would have clearly hurt the interest of the builder lobby who benefit from scarcity of FSI through astronomical property prices and they were always interested in maintaining status quo and derailing the plan-making process", Mahajan alleged.

However, Pankaj Joshi, executive director of the Urban Research Design Institute, an independent think tank working in the field of urban planning, said: “We welcome the state government’s decision and one must congratulate Fadnavis for this decision, as he...took a decision after considerable deliberations over the issue."

And those who are saying the government’s intervention is against MRTP seems to have not read the Act completely. The section 154 of the Act gives overriding power to state government to intervene in the plan-making process or any other function of urban planning authorities such as MCGM at any stage, he claimed.

The MRTP Act, Section 154 reads: “Every Regional Board, Planning Authority and Development Authority shall carry out such directions or instructions as may be issued from time to time by the State Government for the efficient administration of this Act."

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