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MUMBAI: Citing loss of revenue and confusion among citizens, the BMC has requested the state government to turn the Mumbai civic body into a single planning authority for the city. The proposal, which was first made by former municipal chief Ajoy Mehta in 2016, has now been formally incorporated in the BMC budget 2021 draft.

Mumbai is perhaps the only city in the country that has multiple planning agencies. The government and, in particular, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray appear to be amenable to the suggestion.

Explaining the reason for allowing the BMC to be the sole planning authority for the city, Chahal said ,"The fact that the city must have a single planning authority has already been mentioned in the draft Development Plan 2034. As of now, for Mumbai City, apart from the BMC, there are other planning authorities such as MMRDA, MHADA, MIDC, SRA and BPT etc. The mandate of these authorities is to plan the development of the layouts in their possession. There is no control of the BMC on these authorities despite the fact that the corporation is providing all infrastructural facilities -- water supply, disposal of sewerage, roads, street lights, SWM services etc.

This leads to loss of revenue for the BMC; at the same time, citizens have to suffer if any problems arise in infrastructural facilities. The citizens are unable to get solutions as there are multiple planning authorities. If the BMC is assigned as the Single Planning Authority, it will facilitate speedy development and also resolve the problems with regard to infrastructural facilities of citizens residing in these layouts, at a single window."

Chahal added, " The corporation has also proposed to the state government that the BMC be declared as a single planning authority for the entire Cuffe Parade and Marine Drive area and the proposal is under consideration of the government of Maharashtra."

"Under the BMC Act, it is the corporation's obligatory duty to provide civic infrastructure. So, even if different agencies plan for their respective areas, ultimately they turn to the BMC for infrastructure. Our suggestion is that if the BMC is involved right from the planning stage, then delays can be avoided, infrastructure can be hassle-free and once the project is completed, its integration into the existing network can be smooth. After all, the BMC is the custodian of the Development Control Regulations for the city," said a senior BMC official

The draft Development Plan 2034 points to eight special planning areas outside its administrative jurisdiction. Several agencies exercise complete control over these areas such as MMRDA, MHADA and MIDC. MIDC is in charge of Marol Industrial Area, Seepz SEZ and Mhada of Dharavi Redevelopment Project while MMRDA is responsible for five zones within MCGM designated as special planning areas—Back Bay Reclamation Area, Wadala Truck Terminal, Bandra-Kurla Complex, Gorai Uttan Tourism Zone and the airport. The MMRDA also serves as the nodal agency for several infrastructure projects currently being executed such as MUTP, MUIP, metro and monorail, Wadala Truck Terminal and skywalks. In addition, several areas are off-limits to MCGM like lands with defence forces, Mumbai Port Trust, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and the railways. Finally, there is the state's overarching reach through its urban development department, which has been responsible for modifications to development control rules.

Mehta in 2016 even suggested that the BMC should be involved in planning for state projects such as slum rehabilitation (the SRA is planning authority) and MHADA to prevent delays.

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