Salt pan land development: Maharashtra minister Jitendra Awhad demands scrapping of tender by MMRDA for appointment of PMC to prepare road map

Sanjay JogUpdated:Friday, January 21, 2022, 06:02 PM IST
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Maharashtra Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad has continued his resistance against residential and commercial projects on salt pan lands in Mumbai. Awhad today demanded that Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) should scrap the tenders floated for the appointment of project management consultants to prepare a road plan for salt pan land development for affordable housing under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.

Awhad further said that the Maharashtra chief secretary should take into consideration Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's point of view and scrap the High Power Committee meeting called over the same.

Besides Awhad, Maharashtra Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray has also strongly opposed the opening up of salt pan lands spread over 5,500 acres in Mumbai for residential and commercial development.

The opposition by Awhad and Aaditya looks like a tit for tat strategy by the Maha Vikas Aghadi government especially after Centre laid claim to the Kanjurmarg site where a Metro car shed has been planned. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had repeatedly said the car shed can be resolved via dialogue but there has been no response yet from the Centre.

The MMRDA had, in all, given four extensions to receive bids for the appointment of a consultant for the preparation of a roadmap for development of affordable housing on salt pan lands under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. The BJP-led government, in view of lack of availability of required land for affordable housing under PMAY, had in 2014, reiterated the earlier decision to appoint MMRDA as an implementing agency

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Now that the MMRDA has now received a bid for a consultant to prepare a comprehensive plan, Awhad and Aaditya have strongly opposed the opening of salt pan lands for residential and commercial development.

Meanwhile, appreciating Aaditya for putting his foot down on not allowing any development on salt pans of Mumbai, green groups have requested him to maintain the same firm stand with regard Navi Mumbai and other MMR salt pans. ‘’By the same reckoning there is enough land available in Navi Mumbai for development. The City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) repeatedly has been taking the stand that the Panje and NRI-TSC wetlands are erstwhile salt pans and hence developable which the environmentalists have deplored. The NRI-TS Chanakya and Panje wetlands must be spared from the development plans by the government agency CIDCO,’’ said NatConnect Foundation director B N Kumar.

On the other hand, Builders Association of India’s Housing & RERA Committee Chairperson Anand Gupta said, ‘’ We appreciate love for open land and environment. Out of the 2,000 slum locations in Mumbai, 80% of lands belong to the Centre, state government and their undertakings, government owned corporations and the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation. By stopping affordable housing, we may land up allowing these lands encroached.’’

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