BMC de­fends open­ing up NDZ land, says it’s for cheap homes

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Chetna Yerunkar chetna.yerunkar@hin­dus­tan­times.com

MUM­BAI: The civic body was in dam­age-con­trol mode on Fri­day, as it de­fended its plan to open up eco­log­i­cally sen­si­tive lands ear­lier marked as no devel­op­ment zones.

The Bri­han­mum­bai Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion (BMC) said it was only open­ing up 15% of erst­while NDZ plots and 11% of the 2,177 hectares of salt­pan lands, and said most of this will be used to cre­ate more space to build af­ford­able homes in Mum­bai. It said 75% NDZ lands were be­ing marked ‘Nat­u­ral Ar­eas’, which would en­sure it won’t be open for devel­op­ment.

Al­ready fac­ing op­po­si­tion from ac­tivists, the BMC has been on the back­foot es­pe­cially af­ter the rul­ing Shiv Sena — ea­ger to avoid flak from cit­i­zens ahead of next year’s polls — told the ad­min­is­tra­tion it will not sup­port such a plan. Sources said it was im­per­a­tive now for civic chief Ajoy Me­hta to clar­ify that the amount of land that will be opened up was ac­tu­ally lim­ited. Me­hta and his team on Fri­day said the city’s need for cheaper homes could only be met by open­ing up these lands.

“Cur­rently, all of the city’s pop­u­la­tion lives on just 22% of Mum­bai’s land. By ask­ing pri­vate landown­ers to build cheap homes for us on NDZs, we are cut­ting out the cost of land com­pletely,” he said.

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