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Action Plan on Public Open Spaces

May 11th, 2011 by

Minutes of Dialogue, 7 May 2011

In the Mumbai Nagrik Vikas Manch day-long roundtable on Public Open Spaces held on 7 May 2011 we agreed that:

  • Open Spaces by any name should Open and Free for all citizens and denizens. Retaining and protecting existing Open Spaces is the job of the by MCGM.
  • We must classify and list all Public Open Spaces with aid of studies done by groups such as UDRI, CitiSpace, and Mumbai Waterfronts Center.
  • Natural assets such as forests, wetlands, coastal mangroves and salt pans not currently in the DP must be included and protected.
  • The public must participate in the drafting process of the Development Plan for Greater Mumbai for 2013-2034 to make its voice heard at the ward level and across the city.
  • Guiding Principles should be spaces that are sensitive to Gender, Diversity, Difference and are Safe, Inclusive and offer Access to Disabled and Seniors.
  • Individual Sub-Groups to meet amongst themselves and reconvene on Saturday 11 June.
  • Action Plan discussed projects such as an Inventory/Survey of Spaces, study of Livelihoods and Rights to Space, stuy of how to Make Spaces Inclusive, Walkable, Safe for All, and strategy for Public Consultations in the Preparation of Draft Development Plan of the MCGM for 2013-2034.
  • Questions discussed included how to make the State Responsible/Accountable, the Role of Private Sector
  • Common concept of what are Public Open Spaces?
    • Physically open, publicly accessible space
    • People who live there know best
    • Ward level is the most accountable and should be focus of action
    • Inclusive approach to all Stakeholders, including those with Livelihood, Commercial, Political/Religious Users

List of Public Open Spaces

In Development Plan (DP):

  1. RG, PG, P, G = Recreation Ground, Playground, Park, Garden
  2. Swimming Pools and Fish Drying Grounds *
  3. NDZ (No Development Zones)
  4. Semi-Public or Semi-Open: Layout RGs within Large Plots

Not in DP and Should be:

  1. Natural Assets: Creeks, Lakes, Mangroves, Waterfronts
  2. Public Squares: Stations, Bus Terminus, Public Bldgs/Hubs
  3. Pavements/Footpaths and Roads/Transport Corridors
  4. Central Govt Lands: Bombay Port Trust (BPT), Railways, NTC Mill Lands

Sub-Groups To Be Formed

General Policy and Legal Group (Sudhir Badami, Shiraz Rustomjee*)
a. Slideshow/Document on “Know Your DP”
b. Legal work on DC Rules
c. Public and Private Sector Roles and Responsibilities
d. Violations and Loopholes

Existing DP Audit Group (PK Das, Ashok Ravat, Nagesh Kini, Suru More, Shyama Kulkarni*, Pankaj Joshi*)
a. RG, PG, P, G, S, Fish Drying Grounds
b. Objections, Suggestions, Criticism of Current DP
c. Evaluate Current DP Ward-Wise
d. Semi-Open/Semi-Public/Layout RG
e. Mapping/inventory of Existing Reservations and Uses

NDZ and Environmental/Natural Assets Mapping Group (Rishi Agarwal, PK Das, Neera Adarkar*)
a. Creeks, Lakes, Water Bodies
b. Forests, Mangroves, Salt Pans
c. Waterfronts

Expansion of Public Open Spaces (Uma Swaminathan, Raju Bhise, Nandita Shah)
a. New Areas: Public Squares, Hubs, Pavements/Roads, etc.
b. New Concepts of Public Space
c. Connectors, Pedestrian, Market, Cycle, etc.

Whoever else is interested may join!

Roundtable & Dialogue on Public Open Spaces, 7 May 2011

May 1st, 2011 by

We would like to invite you for first of the series of dialogues by the Mumbai Nagrik Vikas Manch on “Public Open Spaces” on SATURDAY 7 MAY 2011 from 10.00 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. at the YMCA, Nathalal Parekh Marg (Wodehouse Road), Colaba, Mumbai 400 001.

The full-day programme will begin with a morning roundtable of presentations by planners, architects, lawyers, activists and researchers on the politics and policy of the Development Plan and Public Open Spaces. The afternoon programme will be in two sessions: an Open Dialogue amongst all participants and organisations present; then a final Action Plan session to discuss and develop a People’s Plan for Mumbai.

10.00 a.m.
REGISTRATION & TEA

10.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m.
MORNING ROUNDTABLE

  • 12.00-12.15
    Extending Public Spaces
    NEERA ADARKAR, Architect and Founder/Trustee, Majlis
  • 12.15-12.30
    Expanding Public Open Spaces
    P.K. DAS, Architect and Convenor, Mumbai Nagrik Vikas Manch

12.30-12.45
DISCUSSION

Identification of issues for dialogue and strategies for action on Public Open Spaces.

12.45-13.30
LUNCH

13.30-15.30
OPEN DIALOGUE

Coordinated by Sudhir Badami and Ritu Dewan, Dept of Economics, Mumbai University

15.30-16.30
ACTION PLAN

16.30

WRAP-UP

 

Organizations Invited for Dialogue

UDRI (Urban Design Research Institute), YUVA (Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action), Nivara Hakk Suraksha Samiti, Akshara Centre, CitiSpace NAGAR Alliance, PUKAR (Partners for Urban Knowledge Action & Research), CRIT (Collective Research Initiatives Trust), SOS (Save Open Spaces), Bombay Environmental Action Group (BEAG), Mangrove Society of India, Girni Kamgar Sangharsh Samiti, National Alliance of Peoples Movements (NAPM), Tata Institute of Social Sciences School of Habitat Studies, Action Aid India, Majlis, AGNI (Action for Good Governance and Networking in India), Praja Foundation, Focus on the Global South, Save Versova Beach Association, Juhu Citizens Welfare Group and residents associations of Nepean Sea Road, Khar Danda, Shivaji Park, Five Gardens, Lokhandwala Complex, Oval Maidan, Carter Road, Bandra Bandstand, Churchgate, Cuffe Parade and other localities in Greater Mumbai.

 

A People’s Plan for Mumbai: Expanding Public Open Spaces

As Mumbai is expanding, its public spaces are shrinking. The sharp decline of democratic and physical space in the city is alarming. We are confronted with a wide range and complexity of issues that affect our lives in the city. Many planners, researchers, practitioners, individuals, organizations and associations who are actively engaged in dealing with these issues, confronting the emerging adverse conditions of life in Greater Mumbai. There is an urgent need to come together to confront our common problems, to connect with each other, to jointly address certain key issues, and to evolve solutions and plan necessary public action for achieving equality and development justice.

A crucial issue confronting Mumbai is the review and formulation of new Development Plan (DP) for the 24 wards which comprise Greater Mumbai. It is essential that concerned citizens initiate a dialogue to evolve development alternatives. The delay in the revision of the current Development Plan for Greater Mumbai, now due to expire in 2013, has given us time to evolve a comprehensive ‘People’s Plan’ for Mumbai, an action plan for inclusion of social, civic and public concerns in the new DP for 2013-2034 and urban planning process.

It is well known that the ratio of Open Spaces to People in Mumbai is a meager 0.06 sqmt/person. New York has 26.4 sqmt/person and London 31.68 sqmt/person. Even a dense city like Tokyo has 4.0 sqmt/person open space. Many organizations and individuals in the city are fighting to protect this meager open space and save it from further abuse and misuse. A comprehensive public open spaces plan must be prepared with specific ideas for the protection and expansion of open spaces. The integration of this plan with the larger development plan of the city is necessary too. Rather the preparation of the city’s development plan on the basis of the open spaces plan may be a way forward towards the achievement of a ‘People’s Plan’ for the city.

A complete mapping and participatory survey of the city’s open spaces must be undertaken with the participation of all the people. This must not only include the various reservations in the DP. such as RG, PG, G & P, but also recognize and include the vast extent of natural assets such as Mangroves, Wetlands, Creeks, Rivers, Ponds, Beaches, Hills and Forests as a part of the open spaces system. Promenades and waterfront gardens must also be included. Encroachments on reserved open spaces and NDZs must also be surveyed and their continuation or relocation decided. All the above open spaces including the NDZ’s must be conserved and prevented from any form of building construction activity. Construction under the guise of public utilities and amenities should not be allowed.

Issues pertaining to maintenance and governance of open spaces must be deliberated. This is particularly important in todays privatisation drive wherein, care-taker policy for gardens and parks is leading to the colonization and exclusive use by setting up private clubs and ticketed enclvaes onb public open spaces in the city. Can local area people manage and maintain these gardens? Or should new models of public-civic-private partnerships with citizen’s at the helm be established? Can citizen’s organizations be inclusive or should we demand total government funding and administration of open spaces?

Open spaces provide dignity to public life, and their expansion is critical to democracy and inclusion of all citizens of Greater Mumbai. The quality of public life in any city is reflected in the quality of public open spaces the city provides its inhabitants.

Minutes of Workshop, 28 March 2011

April 1st, 2011 by

Peoples Plan for Mumbai: A Dialogue

A crucial issue confronting Mumbai is the new Development Plan which is being currently formulated. In this regard, the Mumbai Nagrik Vikas Manch (MNVM) and the Department of Economics, Mumbai University organized a dialogue to evolve development alternatives. Preparing a ‘Peoples Plan’ towards this objective is necessary particularly since the ruling elite are in the process of imposing oppressive and discriminatory policies and programmes for achieving an exclusive city. The meeting was held on the 28 of March 2011 at the Department of Economics, University of Mumbai. The three central issues discussed were Susutainable Mobility, Affordable Housing and Open Spaces which were initiated by Sudhir Badami, Raju Bhise and PK Das respectively.

Prof. Ritu Dewan gave the invitation note laying emphasis on the importance of having academicians, planners, researchers, practitioners, individuals come together and try to develop an alternative People’s plan. She also stressed on democratizing cities and making them more inclusive. The discussion was initiated with a brief introduction by PK Das who reiterated that the objective of the workshop was to develop a people’s plan as an alternative to the present development plan. In order to attain this end, the group is to have a series of dialogues such that people’s participation can be encouraged in developing the new plan for the people “The People’s Plan” which would ultimately be presented to the BMC.

Introductory Note by P.K.Das

We all know that Mumbai is an unplanned city. Sadly its expansion too is unplanned. Absence of planning is turning Mumbai into an anarchic city.

Growth is being guided merely by the Development Control Regulations, which is being continuously subject to manipulation and modification by builders and politicians for promoting real estate interest. Historically real estate developers have dictated the city’s politics and its development policies & programs.

These influences have not only been unjust and contrary to the majority people’s interest but also undermine planned development of the city.

The Municipal Corporation has a Development Plan, which is basically a land-use plan. Together with the DCR it ought to regulate the development needs of the city. But the land use plan is miserably fragmented and incoherent, only to support short- term interest. It lacks ideas about the city’s development and future needs thus, failing to address basic planning principles and standards.

The present DP is to undergo a revision. It is necessary for all of us to collectively intervene in larger public interest in-order to achieve a ‘People’s plan’ for Mumbai.

A ‘People’s Plan’ that gets prepared through active participation of people’s organizations at all levels including, a wide spectrum of professionals, academics and other individuals. For this purpose a public dialogue is a necessary condition.

Key Issues

Evaluation of a very wide spectrum of issues is necessary in the process of preparation of the city’s development Plan. But, due to our own shortcomings and limitations in accessing information and reaching to so many organizations working in various sectors, we limit ourselves in this dialogue to three key issues as under:

  1. Affordable Housing and Slums Redevelopment
  2. Expanding Public Open Spaces and protecting them.
  3. Sustainable Mobility: Sustainable includes affordability and environmental concerns. Mobility is not only transport but includes social structure, community networks

We may decide today if Social Amenities issue is also to be taken up by us may for discussion in subsequent dialogues.

Planning Process: The form and mechanism of public dialogue including dissemination of information will also require discussion in today’s dialogue. How do we maximize participation? How do we conduct dialogues to reach organizations working in different sectors? Should Ward based initiatives be our approach to not only maximize participation but for the preparation of area based plans that together would lead the way forward for the preparation of a ‘People’s Plan’ for the entire city. Only then we can expand our network and influence the government. The Development Plan revision ought become a movement in the city.

To sustain this endeavor we have to integrate this movement with larger democratic rights movement in the city. Physical planning is a political act and the process of planning an effective democratic instrument for social change.  Our attempt to prepare a ‘People’s Plan’ for Mumbai will strengthen our democratic functions and commitments and enable us to bring about desired social change towards establishing an equal and inclusive city. As has been discussed earlier, three different members of the Manch will introduce and outline the three issues in-order to carry out the dialogue. Raju Bhise will outline the Affordable Housing and Slums Redevelopment segment. Thereafter Sudhir Badami will outline the Sustainable Mobility and Transportation issue. Lastly, PK Das will outline the case of Public Open Spaces.

Prof. Abhay Pethe delivered the welcome note hailing the collaboration between a citizen’s group and the University of Mumbai as a commendable move. He remarked that urban planning is monopolized by architects and there is a dire need to include economists, sociologists etc into the planning of a City’s Development Plan. Also, the jargon to be used by us when we try to communicate with citizens and other NGOs should not be difficult. There are many stakeholders, NGOs, governmental departments; how do we engage with the people so that we have a people’s plan. Before embarking on a People’s plan it is necessary to keep a few things in mind-
Governance is the key. It is essential to get a handle on the political understanding. Understand the process of decentralization as it plays out in Mumbai; with the state and central government being increasingly involved in Mumbai’s governance and weak decentralization, there is no clear ownership of Mumbai.

Any successfully policy/plan must adhere to the three fundamental economic principles:

  • Goodness of Law : The important laws that govern politics have a severe impact on the outcomes. Take for example the divergence between the de facto and the de jure amounts to fund political elections. Laws must be incentive compatible and must possess the characteristic of epsilon truthfulness.
  • One Price Principle: FSI gradient- downward sloping from CBD satisfies the one price principle. If the principle of One Price Principle is not satisfied then it leads to arbitrage gains to be made.
  • Stock Flow: When the house price is not in sync with the income of the household residing in it then there is a divergence between the Stock (House price) and the Flow (income). This leads to housing issues in the city. It has been studied that it sometimes leads to gentrification with a voluntary twist. People voluntary vacate their premises.

A few points to remember whilst deliberating on the three issues:

Public Open Spaces: One must remember what happened in DCR 58- an across party collusion
Affordable Housing: SRA, MHADA, FSI, TDR, planning tools used as financing tools, incentive FSI;
Sustainable Mobility: No single solution we need to have a bouquet approach. Feasibility is important and should be included.

Convergence

In the convergence, after much discussion and deliberation on the road ahead, it was decided that it would be essential to go forth to the public and other NGOs/ people’s organizations using the issue of open public spaces. Hence a small meeting involving different NGOs and multiple stakeholders (excluding government officials)will be organized to build a larger consensus within a month, say end of April. After this meeting, there are plans to have a much larger round table along with a week long exhibition. Venue etc. is yet to be decided. For the purpose of organizing and managing these Open Space events, it was decided to form a much larger group/team.

Three teams are formed for the three different aspects:

  • Sustainable Mobility: Sudhir Badami, Vidyadhar Date, Ashok Datar, Rishi Agarwal, Shekhar Krishnan and Uma Swaminathan.
  • Affordable Housing: Raju Bhise, PK Das, Ritu Dewan, Shekhar Krishnan, Sahil Gandhi
  • Public Open Spaces: Rishi Agarwal, PK Das, Uma Swaminathan, Nandita, Sudhir Badami and Vaidehi Tandel

Another team is formed that is assigned the task of managing/organizing the Open Space meet. The team yet has to be comprised. The content of the presentation is to be taken care of the open space team. Also it is decided to create a directory of Organizations and People to invite for the next meeting.

Note on Affordable Housing

March 28th, 2011 by

Note by Raju Bhise

New DP should reduce forced evictions, housing for all, slum dwellers and their rights after redevelopment.

The national housing policy – housing for all could not be fulfilled due to lack of land availability. Mass housing has not been made available MHADA must be used at it full potential.

Land reservations must be made then only affordable housing can be made available.

It was held that as there was no land in Mumbai for reservation for affordable housing, the only alternative was to use slums land for affordable housing with the clause that no sales of land for any other use are allowed. 1.7 FSI on slum land in Mumbai would be enough to relocate all the slums and there would be surplus to take care of future requirements (additional housing stock). In DP 42% reserved for housing and adding slum land we get 50% of land area for housing.

The custodian of this reserved land in the DP would be the government. The government could allot it to an organization like the MHADA or BMC for implementation of the redevelopment.The government will have to work out the mechanics of compensating those whose lands are acquired for the purpose.

Related issues rental housing for poor, cess buildings, unoccupied housing and housing for mill workers, issues of the gaothans, fishing villages and pavement dwellers will also need to be addressed. The affordable housing will not be free of cost. Slum dwellers will contribute with the State investing in infrastructure services. The idea for reserving slum land could be applied to cess buildings as well.

Some reservations were expressed as to whether the government could be persuaded to reserve lands for affordable housing. Since this is not a scheme like SRA which is based on cross subsidies, there is bound to be opposition from the elite. Moreover, it is seen that the government is usually willing to acquire land if it benefits the elite but not if it is for the poor. In the political economy scheme of things, the poor don’t have a seat at the table.
A rights based approach could help resolve this problem. A two pronged approach is required where we demand affordable housing as well as push for housing rights of people.

Note on Sustainable Mobility

March 28th, 2011 by

Note by Sudhir Badami

The Development Plan for Mumbai is being revised. About eight years ago, Bombay First produced a Vision Document with the expertise of Mckinsey. Based on this, Government of Maharashtra (GoM) initiated steps with the intention of making Mumbai into a Regional Financial Hub. The steps taken by the GoM had to have at least an appearance of being inclusive of all section of Mumbai inhabitants, present and future, which the Mckinsey Vision Document lacked in many ways. Transportation issues were perceived to be the major hindrance to rapid transformation or makeover of Mumbai as much as growing slums. Ridding of slums was conceived by utter disregard to other necessary inputs for the humane rehabilitation of such a large populace. In absence of affordable, efficient, safe public transport, even conceiving to move people living in the slums to new homes, more so to new locations, was totally ill founded.

Thanks to the Government of Maharashtra not taking steps to create adequate affordable housing, continued natural growth of slums was imminent, reaching a staggering figure of nearly a crore living in slums of Mumbai out of a population of nearly 143 lakh; such a large population occupying barely eight to ten percent of land area.

Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) was asked to get Comprehensive Transport Study (CTS) carried out and also propose a Business Plan for the entire Mumbai Metropolitan Region. These got completed in 2008 through expertise of LEA Assocites, a Canadian based Consulting firm. CTE-2008 lent support to the transport study by World Bank in 2005 that revealed what was logical but not obvious. These revealed that 44% of Mumbai population commuted to work only by foot, 3.1% used bicycles, 23% by suburban railway and 17 by BEST buses. Only 2.9% used personal cars and 8.5 by motorizes two wheelers and remaining of about 1.5% use para transit or Intermediate Public Transport like Autorickshaws and Taxis. It also revealed that 57% live within 3 km of their place or work, 69% within 5km, 81% within 10 km and 89% within 15 km. Only 11% lived beyond 15 km.

With the Bombay First-Mckinsey Vision Document-2003, the CTS-2008 and Business Plan for the MMR on their palet and the Citizen’s Action Group and Empowered Committee pushing for follow-up action, GoM got a Singapore based Urban Planners, M/s Surbana International, to visualize and give direction for development of Mumbai into a “Global City” such as New York, London, Shanghai, Tokyo and Singapore etc. “.. an exemplary urban development model with a remarkable Central Business District, a highly integrated and seamless transportation systems, a slum-less society, … and a rich mix of local culture and heritage.”
Mumbai 2052 Concept Plan prepared by them, with supposed consultations with wide cross sections of Mumbai inhabitants, was unveiled recently. As before, it appeared to be all but inclusive and proposed a commuting transport focused towards Nariman Point with a travel time of utmost one hour from any point in the MMR. The plan totally disregards the present state of habitation and modes of travel, both of which need to be improved and strengthened in its present state rather than a revamp that makes long trips mandatory for almost everyone thus causing utmost inconvenience to majority of the population and lowering their quality of life. Long distance commute for a very large population also means disregard to the resolve to lowering the carbon footprint from transport sector.

Metro Rail, Monorail and freeways are being given priority over what is urgently required to be done. Priority needs to be given to strengthening infrastructure for walking, cycling and BRT Systems, including dedicated bus lanes where BRT is not warranted. Democratic polity must get reflected through the equitable use of road space. There are some issues pertaining to transport which needs to be tackled with the new DP. Those are:

  1. Annual fatality is 4000 persons per year.
  2. Pedestrian, cyclists and their issues
  3. Environmental issues
  4. Duration of implementation of projects
  5. Cost of project

There is an urgent need to prioritize our projects, footpaths to be made such that they have more space such that footpaths are safe to walk. There is a need to provide infrastructure space for bicycles and motor vehicles and provide adequate road crossings.

One must have an integrated transport plan. Governance becomes very important as there are many parastatals/stakeholders involved. There are multiple organizations in transport such as:

  1. Transport department in the BMC
  2. Traffic police under the home ministry who only takes care of the road traffic it focuses more on road planning
  3. MMRDA doing transport planning; business plan of LEA, integrated planning
  4. BEST

No coordination among these organizations. Talk about the need for a unified multimodal transport system. Transport planning must be integrated with the city’s master plan. Land use planning must reflect the multimodal transport and vice versa. One needs to understand the impacts of a well designed BRTS on railways.

Skybus is also a good option and its should be integrated with skywalks. Skybus if stretched well will cost Rs15 crore per km. Skybus will also provide disaster management solution (in case of flooding). It will take the load off the railways and it will help to reach the design capacity of the railways. In terms of its costing, the number of actual travelers by rail approximately are 3,65,000 however the capacity is approximately 1,50,000 therefore the deficit today is almost of 2 lakhs. One also requires the BRTS along with dedicated lanes. Less buses would be required as their turnover would increase.

The advantages of the elevated metro will have to be weighed against the underground metro. Latter costs more but there is less disturbance (skybus will face the same problems as elevated metro). Investment in all these is for a long term. Some issues related to the metro are long gestation period, land acquisition issues and complexities of station in sky which need to be resolved. Wherever the metro stops are there, we will find justification for higher FSI and malls will start coming there rather than residential buildings. Land is required for skybus and metro; since land there is more private land than public, how do we enable DP to look at integrated transport?

Railways- 15 coach is not viable, we require additional capacity. There is a need to look at a multimodal transport network and planning and its impact on DP. The railways can act as the trunk and the subsidiaries could be the other modes including walking and cycling.

Transportation plan must not be made without the city plan. Trunks should be connected by metro, BRTS and the feeders by BEST, NMT. There are four roads in the western and 3 in the eastern part of the city; if a metro or skybus come they will come into these roads and further cause problems. Since Mumbai has physical and geographical diversity, neighbourhood based planning has become the key and hence there will also be a need to look at inter neighbourhood transport.

Expanding Public Open Spaces

March 28th, 2011 by

Note by P.K. Das

It is well known that the ratio of Open Spaces to People in Mumbai is a meager 0.06 sqmt/person. New York has 26.4 sqmt/person and London 31.68 sqmt/person. Even a dense city like Tokyo has 4.0 sqmt/person open space. Many organizations and individuals in the city are fighting to protect this meager open space and save it from further abuse and misuse. Our aim must also be to prepare a plan for expansion of public open spaces in-order to enhance the quality of life for now and the future.
This can be achieved by preparing a comprehensive open spaces plan for the city. Needless to say that such a plan must be consistent with the larger ‘People’s Plan’ for the development of the city.

Firstly a complete mapping of the city’s open spaces must be undertaken with the participation of all the people. This must not only include the various reservations in the DP. such as RG, PG, G & P, but also recognize and include the vast extent of natural assets such as Mangroves, Wetlands, Creeks, Rivers, Ponds, Beaches, Hills and Forests as a part of the open spaces system. Promenades and waterfront gardens must also be included. Encroachments on reserved open spaces and NDZ’s must also be surveyed and their continuation or relocation decided.

All the above open spaces including the NDZ’s must be conserved and prevented from any form of building construction activity. Construction under the guise of public utilities and amenities should not be allowed too.

Finally, a comprehensive public open spaces plan must be prepared with specific ideas for the protection and expansion of open spaces. The integration of this plan with the larger development plan of the city is necessary too. Rather the preparation of the city’s development plan on the basis of the open spaces plan may be a way forward towards the achievement of a ‘People’s Plan’ for the city. Open spaces plan ought to be the basis for the preparation of the city’s development plan.

One simple way of achieving the expansion of open spaces is to develop a web of green connectors, in the form of avenues, pathways, gardens and cultural spaces, along major roads, creeks, water bodies, rivers, open spaces, mud-flats, and mangroves thus, networking the various open spaces. This physical networking of open spaces will inevitably facilitate social networking particularly, at neighbourhood level. These networks will also enable walking and cycling thus, challenging our increased dependency on motorized transportation, road congestion and pollution.

Lastly but not the least, these connectors will provide an opportunity for developing rich environmental condition all over the city including the various neighbourhoods. This will include trees plantation, landscaping, conservation of water bodies- rivers, nalas and ponds. These new spaces will in turn influence developments around them offering ways for further networking of buildings and layouts. Gradually the city will experience a radical departure in urban planning and design towards the achievement of an integrated and cohesive city thus, providing better quality of life and environmental condition.

Issues pertaining to funding, partnerships and governance including maintenance of open spaces have to be deliberated. This is particularly important in today’s privatization drive wherein, care-taker policy for gardens and parks is leading to the colonization and exclusive use- by the setting up of private clubs with high membership fee, of public open spaces in the city. Can local area people manage and maintain these gardens? Or should new models of govt-citizens-private sponsors partnerships with citizen’s at the helm be established? Can the citizen’s organizations be inclusive? Or do we demand total government funding and administration of open spaces?

Open spaces provide dignity to public life. Or the quality of public life in any city is reflected in the quality of public open spaces the city provides. Thus the democratization of public spaces is a significant objective that we have to pursue.

  • There are about 18,000 pockets of open spaces in terms of RGPGPG and they contribute approx 3% of land area. 2% of open spaces have been encroached upon. Open spaces are about 54% and the remaining 45% is open for development. Irla Nala is a successful example of developing green corridors.
  • Cost for such redevelopment is not very high and the corridors can be maintained by the BMC
  • Mumbai’s open spaces are becoming exclusionary owing to user fees and encroachment by residential associations.
  • Possibility of developing open spaces under flyovers (as is done in China) needs to be explored. There is also the need to plan for hawker zones.
  • Plan for spaces only for pedestrians (restrict motor vehicle entry) and encourage cycling lanes.
  • All railway stations could have green roofs thereby creating open spaces there.
  • The Transport Master Plan would be useful for creating green connectors.

Workshop on ‘Peoples Plan for Mumbai: A Dialogue’, 28 March 2011

March 22nd, 2011 by

Date: Monday, 28 March 2011. Time: 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.
Department of Economics, University of Mumbai, Vidyanagari, Mumbai 400098

Dear Friends:

A crucial issue confronting Mumbai is the new Development Plan which is being currently formulated. It is essential that as concerned citizens we initiate a dialogue to evolve development alternatives. Preparing a ‘Peoples Plan’ towards this objective is necessary particularly since the ruling elite are in the process of imposing oppressive and discriminatory policies and programmes for achieving an exclusive city.

As Mumbai is expanding, its public spaces are shrinking. The sharp decline of democratic and physical space in the city is alarming. We are confronted with a wide range and complexity of issues that affects our lives in the city. There are also a large number of academicians, planners, researchers, practitioners, individuals, organizations and associations who are actively engaged in dealing with these issues and confronting the emerging adverse conditions of living.

There is an urgent need to come together to confront our common problems, to connect with each other, to jointly address certain key issues, and to evolve solutions and plan necessary public action for achieving equality and development justice. This initiative to revive the Mumbai Nagrik Vikas Manch is a step in that direction. We believe that the revival of the MNVM in a new avatar can be a significant move towards enabling various people’s organisations and individuals who are engaged in working on the issues of Mumbai city to connect and come together.

We request you to kindly participate in this one-day workshop to discuss the various issues pertaining specifically to the three central issues of Affordable Public Housing including slums redevelopment, Open-spaces, and Mobility in the city including transportation infrastructure.

Programme Schedule

10 – 10.15 a.m. Registration
10.15 a.m. Introduction: Prof Ritu Dewan, Department of Economics
10.20 a.m. Introduction: P.K.Das, Mumbai Nagrik Vikas Manch
10.30 a.m. Welcome: Prof. Abhay Pethe Director, Department of Economics
11.00 – 11.15 a.m. Tea Break
11.15 – 12.15 p.m. Discussion on Open Spaces. Initiator: P.K.Das
12.15 – 1.15 p.m. Sustainable Mobility for Mumbai. Initiator: Sudhir Badami
1.15 – 2.15 p.m. Lunch Break
2.15 –3.15 p.m. Affordable Housing. Initiator: Raju Bhise
3.15 – 4.45 p.m. Building MNVM and a Citizens Response
4.45 p.m. Vote of Thanks: Dr Uma Swaminathan

Minutes of Meeting, 22 February 2011

March 5th, 2011 by

The following members were present for this meeting: Jatin Das, Ritu Dewan, Nira Bhatnagar, Shweta Tambe, Nandita Shah, P.K Das, Sudhir Badami, Raju Bhise, Amita Bhide.

The major points discussed in the meeting were-

  • The name of the forum

The name MNVM has a history and tradition of a platform that engaged substantively on issues of planning and development of the city. It brought together a perspective that was deeper than most groups and was integrative of social and physical dimensions. The key issue for debate here was could we retain this character and expend it to a) be more contemporary and b) appeal to a larger group of stakeholders such as citizen groups

The discussion on this remained inconclusive through many members present felt that MNVM was adequately representative. It was decided to invite suggestions from members and decide on the same at a later date

  • The mandate of the forum

The members discussed this in terms of general mandate, way of functioning and priority issues for engagement. It was decided that MNVM try to retain its earlier mandate of engagement with planning and development issues of the city. It would represent constituent voice and would act as an advocacy and campaign group on certain issues of immense importance. For the same, it will organize conferences, issue statements and engage with the State and other stakeholders.

The discussion further resulted in an agreement on three issues that MNVM will focus on as of now:

a) development plan

b) Transport and

c) Open spaces

There was some debate on whether we could also work on issue of governance but it was felt that we could incorporate a perspective of decentralized and participatory governance within all the three issues.

  • Next steps

The group decided that with an awareness of our limited capacities, it was necessary to first advance our own understanding of key issues, debates and aspects around these three areas. Therefore, the first step would be to organize a one day workshop for the same. Ritu agreed to make the facilities at the university available for the same. The tentative date for the workshop is scheduled as 29 March.