Mumbai Development Plan 2034 puts focus on affordable homes and job creation

First, the good news — the Mumbai Development Plan (DP) for 2034 speaks about creating 1 million affordable houses and 8 million jobs in the city. The DP envisages creating theatres, museums, parks, playgrounds, theme gardens, old age homes and shelters for the homeless.

Now the bad news — all this may remain on paper as BMC’s development plans have had a very dismal record of completion. Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation Commissioner Ajoy Mehta himself admitted on Wednesday that only 20% of what the 1991 Development Plan had envisaged could be achieved. In plain terms, all the talk of creating 1 million affordable homes and 8 million jobs is likely to remain on paper because execution has been poor.

The Development Plan for 2034 talks of utilising salt pan lands for affordable housing. According to the plan, out of the 3,355 hectares in the no-development zone, BMC has earmarked 2,100 hectares as well as 330 hectares of salt pan land for affordable housing. The plan could prove controversial as activists and environmental activists claim the city could become prone to flooding because the salt pan lands act as natural sieves that hold water during monsoon.

To create more jobs, the DP has given incentives for commercial structures to have extra floor space index (FSI). Residential buildings will also be given extra FSI subject to road width. Data centres have been allowed a height of 6 metres to encourage setting up of more such centres.

Giving details of the DP, principal secretary of the urban development department Nitin Kareer said that maximum stress has been put on making available more open space. He said that a provision has been made to add 42 hectares of open space.

The DP has also designated 12,859 hectares as natural spaces, a new category where no new construction will be allowed, according to Mehta. However, there are caveats, as pointed out in the civic body’s press release that new construction could take place in the area if the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) permits it or if it is needed for essential services.

In what could again cause controversy, Aarey Colony in Goregaon has been earmarked for a Metro carshed as well as for rehabilitating Adivasis from the Sanjay Gandhi National park. A zoo may also come up in the area.

In what could be a major relaxation, the BMC has proposed that people would have the freedom to make changes in the interior part of their home as per necessity without damaging the structural stability of the building.

The DP has also created several zones like residential, commercial, industrial, no-development zones and natural areas.

The civic body also plans to create a separate parking authority. It plans to create two mega parking space of 300 acres each, one would be in Cuffe Parade and the other near the Bombay Port Trust.

“For years, Mumbai’s Development Plans focused on residential real estate development. This time, the focus has been equally placed on the commercial real estate with twin focus –decongesting existing CBD areas as also on extending the ‘walk to work’ aspect in newer locations. The Mumbai Development Plan 2034 brings in a serious effort to ensure the target of affordable homes is met within a reasonable time, given the opening up of various categories of land on which such construction was earlier not allowed,” said Niranjan Hiranandani, president of realty developers’ body National Real Estate Development Council (NAREDCO).

Some activists say the plan bears an uncanny resemblance to the one-third land formula used to develop defunct mill plots in central Mumbai, a framework which was altered on the demands of developers and eventually created little or no open space and social infrastructure.
Pankaj Joshi, executive director, Urban Design Research Institute said, “The fear in civil society is that the new DCR may also be tweaked to give more land to the owners rather than for affordable housing. The city could lose out,” he said.
Asked why the BMC had not earmarked reservations for affordable housing on NDZs on the Development Plan maps as it has done for other land parcels around the city, Mehta said the rules laid down are sufficient to ensure the targets are met.
Activist and architect, P K Das, however, disagreed. “ hopes landowners will be lured by an incentive FSI of 3 to develop their land for affordable housing. But the DP suggests only 25% of NDZ land to be developed for affordable housing. Assuming land-owners of all the 3,330 hectares take advantage, only 25% of that land—about 830 hectares—will be available for affordable housing. That translates into 85,000 affordable units,” he said.
Civic officials too conceded that government’s target of five lakh affordable units on NDZ land was unrealistic.
In all, the city has 13,706 hectares of NDZ land of which 75% has been set aside as ‘Natural Areas’ characterized by mangroves, mudflats, creeks, estuaries, where no construction is permitted. It is from the remaining 3,355 hectares that BMC seeks to separate 2,100 hectares for the mass housing project.


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