The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority(MMRDA) has given yet another extension for submission of bids for the appointment of a consultant for the redevelopment of salt pan land in the city. The fresh deadline for bids is November 15; the earlier deadline was October 20.
The redevelopment of these land parcels was announced with much gusto in 2004, but the plan has hardly left the drawing board for want of a consultant. The coronavirus-induced lockdowns are the latest reasons for an otherwise inexplicable 17-year delay.
A few years ago, the agency had surveyed and studied the salt pans to check the feasibility of affordable housing projects. A study was reportedly submitted to the then BJP-Shiv Sena-led state government. In this report, it was concluded that only a 25-acre plot was fit to be developed out of the total of 5,300 acres.
Owing to contentious issues such as the land-sharing formula between the Centre and the state and the resulting ongoing litigation, the objective of developing salt pans for housing projects, besides other development projects, has not progressed. The proposed car shed for the city’s only underground Metro Line 3 (Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ) at Kanjurmarg salt pan land is also stuck due to the Centre’s objection and a case is in the Bombay High Court.
On its website, the MMRDA explains that at a meeting in New Delhi on July 30, 2010, it was discussed that the Ministry of Law will come up with draft legislation for retrieval of all lands to the Government of India, with legal claims (if any) being compensated. The proposed law is not to interfere with the existing law related to forests, CRZ, environment, and right of way for the 700-mt missing link of Wadala. However, the state government is still awaiting the above legislation.
In Mumbai, salt pans are largely located in central Mumbai at Wadala, in eastern suburbs at Turbhe, Kanjurmarg, Bhandup, Nahur and Mulund and in the western suburbs of Malvani and Dahisar. The extended suburbs, such as Mira-Bhayandar and Virar in Palghar district, also have salt pans.
The state government is keen on unlocking these plots and provisions for the same have been made in the DP (development plan) 2034. The DP reportedly earmarks 321 acres (130 hectares) of salt pans to be used for affordable housing.
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