Friday, January 31, 2014

Is Mumbai shrinking? Civic body believes so

The boundaries of Greater Mumbai as defined by the BMC's preparatory study for Development Plan (DP) 2014-34 do not include over 24 sq km, or 6,000 acres, of land belong to the region, experts say. The study records 458.28 sq km in the existing land use (ELU) map instead of the previously acknowledged 482.74 sq km, they say. Urban planners and architects are concerned about the missing area and say the BMC's omission would leave the land vulnerable to exploitation.

"We want that the area of Mumbai should be comprehensive and all inclusive. Over the years, new lands have been created by land filling and siltation in the creeks. These additional lands have to be included into the area calculation of Mumbai," said architect P K Das.

A mapping of Mumbai's eco-sensitive areas and open spaces was conducted by PK Das & Associates and Mumbai Waterfronts Centre in 2012. According to it, the total area of Mumbai is 482.74 sq km.

"The state government had asked the BMC's Development Plan department to reconcile our figures with that of Group SCE (consultants who conducted the BMC's DP study) a year ago. An exercise was jointly carried out and Mumbai's area was acknowledged as 482.74 sq km. Yet the BMC continues to publish it as 458.28 sq km... All rivers, creeks, saltpans and mangroves must be mapped," Das said.

Environmentalist Debi Goenka, executive trustee, Conservation Action Trust, explained that the BMC boundaries were last drawn in the 1960s. No legislation has been passed since then to extend the boundary. The BMC's figure of 458.28 sq km dates from a 1968 revenue map issued by the state government.

Das said siltation occurs in creeks because of which mangroves and mudflats expand. But a civic official said, "Land formation is because of silt deposits but we cannot include those areas. According to revenue records, mangroves and wetlands are separately marked as water bodies."