Who’s who come together to analyse DP at MNS meet

MNS holds a conclave attended by its chief Raj Thackeray, Bollywood stars Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Farhan Akhtar, Riteish Deshmukh, along with luminaries from different walks of life

Mumbai : Maharashtra Navanirman Sena (MNS) Chief Raj Thackeray criticised the new Development Plan proposed for the city while making sarcastic comments about it during a conclave organised by the party here at Rangasharda auditorium in suburbs on Saturday.

“Understand what the administration has proposed for the future of Mumbai. Hear it yourself, decide and convey it to as many people of Mumbai as possible,” was the moto of the two hour conclave that was attended by several Bollywood stars along with luminaries from different walks of life.

“Mumbai has four rivers. But, today their state is worse than a nullah… Once government wanted to declare Aarey as the eco-sensitive zone. But the proposed development plan has no green zone at all,” Raj Thackeray said as he initiated the discussion.

The cine stars called for a dialogue between citizens and government to plan the vision for the city.

“If citizens are protesting against the new DP, government should rethink and take decisions in the best interest of the city,” they said.

Actor-filmmakers Aamir Khan, Salman Khan and his father Salim Khan, Farhan Akhtar, actor Riteish Deshmukh, and lyricist Javed Akhtar were prominent among those present. Salman Khan, had however, left early.

Aamir while speaking on the occasion was critical of the metro car shed proposed in city’s green belt Aarey Colony.

“If the natural aesthetics of Aarey is disturbed due to the DP, it is a cause of concern. The Aarey milk colony should not be disturbed. Government should involve citizens in the Development Plan and seek their views to plan the future of Mumbai. If this had been done before, there would have been no need to hold such meetings,” he said.

Architect and town planner P K Das demanded that the DP be scrapped, since it had lot of loopholes which cannot be rectified.

“There will be no traffic decongestion or no scope for affordable housing,” he said.

Among researchers working on biodiversity in Aarey area, photographer Nayan Khanolkar on the occasion said the DP has been prepared without having knowledge of Mumbai.

“Wrong reports were prepared that there is no wildlife in Aarey colony. The DP is just a business of FSI,” he charged.

Addressing the gathering, Thackeray said the meeting was non-political one and filmstars have come forward out of their concern for Mumbai city.

“Film industry bigwigs attended this meeting because of their love and concern for the city and are connected to social causes. Salman is involved in social work through his Being Human foundation while Aamir raises social issues through his TV programme.

“Javed Akhtar has given his MP fund of Rs 25 crore for cleaning of drains while Riteish Deshmukh was present as an architect and not as an actor,” he said.

The party chief said some people think he does everything for political reasons but for him Mumbai’s development issue was above politics.

Later, Riteish Deshmukh took to micro-blogging site Twitter to discuss the Development Plan-2034.

In a series of tweets, the actor said the Development Plan warrants discussion at a much larger scale and felt presentations should be made by the government to locals in each ward or area to make them aware of the changes that are to come.

“Greens of Aarey are the lungs of Mumbai – No aarey and this city will stop breathing,” he said in one of the tweets and also demanded a referendum on such issues as people should vote how they want their city to be.

Finally he signed off with “DP2034: is the Development Plan of Mumbai-which dictates growth of Mumbai till year 2034.My Q-Do you know what’s in store for u n ur city?,” he asked.

“I blame myself as a Mumbaikar for not taking interest in knowing about #DP2034 -that will in effect bring changes to our city- good or bad?” he tweeted.

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Shiv Sena thinks of rehab, open spaces

Mumbai : Shiv Sena appeared concerned over the issues like rehabilitation and open spaces across the city after senior party leaders including the ministers in the State government had a detailed briefing from the city’s Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte over the proposed Development Plan of the city.

As Kunte presented the development plan (DP), many of the Sena MLAs voiced concerns over the green belt of Aarey. “Aarey colony and the national park are lungs of Mumbai. We must preserve the open spaces while just fully rehabilitating the slum-dwellers in the Aarey colony,” most of them said.

Prominent amongst who were present during the presentation in Mantralaya late Friday evening were industries minister Subhash Desai, transport minister Diwakar Raote and minister of state for housing Ravindra Waikar.

Where would the slum-dwellers from near Sanjay Gandhi National Park would be rehabilitated, asked Sena MLA Prakash Surve, to which officials said that 10,000 of the slums have been resettled in Chandivali and there are still some vacant plots where others can be rehabilitated. When other party MLA Ajay Chaudhari raised the point of redevelopment of over 17,000 old buildings in Parel area, the administration said that present legislation will have to be amended for integrated redevelopment of the buildings.

CRZ regulations and FSI cap of 1.33 were brought in to keep population of the island city under check. But that did not solve the problem and contrary to the perception it led to the problem of real estate price hike. Now, with the proposed DP offering FSI upto 2.5, the city would grow vertically. This would add to the open spaces around the city, the officials told the MLAs.

But, the leaders sounded concern over the fact that there is only about 1,009 hectare open land left in Aarey. The proposed DP has earmarked 4.56% (45 hectare) for rehabilitation, 10.12% for educational institutes, 9.43% for health services, 4.88% for infrastructural developments and 9.17% for other institutes. This means 61.83% or 594.84 hectares of open land would still be available which would then be turned into a New York like Central Park or a theme park. Mumbai, in the past had lost several important national projects in the field of education and research due to lack of land, MCGM commissioner Kunte told the leaders.

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