Projects in Mumbai: Grand development plans or an exercise in futility?

Grand development plans or an exercise in futility?

In the last 20 yrs, barely 20% of proposals have seen the light of day

Clara Lewis | TNN

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A tottering infrastructure, disappearing open spaces, an unmanageable population. These are just some of the problems that plague the city; proof that the BMC’s current Development Plan (DP), which will expire in 2013, is a failure. It was nearly 20 years in the making, and towards the fag end of its life, only 20 per cent of the proposals have been implemented.

The first DP for Mumbai was prepared by the BMC in 1964, but was sanctioned in parts by the state government between 1965 and ’67. In 1977, the BMC undertook the task of revising the DP. Once again, the revised DP was sanctioned in parts from 1990 to 1994. Now, the civic administration is set to revise the city’s DP for 2014-2034.

ill date, the BMC has succeeded in acquiring barely 12 to 14 per cent of the total land required to implement the existing DP that is valid till 2013. But the question that citizens can’t help but ask is whether these blueprints for Mumbai is yet another exercise in futility.

Municipal commissioner Jairaj Phatak said the problem with the 20-year DP is that often the planning is divorced from finances. “While preparing the plan, we don’t really take into account the ability of the authority to implement the plan,” he said.
According to Phatak, 21 million sq m of land was to be acquired for various public amenities for the current DP. “So far, 18 million sq m remains to be acquired. The two million that has been acquired has been by way of Transfer of Development Rights (TDR). Only 1.21 million sq m has been acquired under the conventional Land Acquisition Act,” he said.

Ashish Shelar, BJP corporator and standing committee member said: “First, the BMC does not have the will to implement it. Second, there has always been interference from the urban development department, and several changes were made to the DP,” he said.

Urban planners and activists say the DP looks good only on paper. According to Neera Punj, convenor Citispace, a citizens group fighting to preserve the city’s open spaces, there is a disconnect between what is written in the DP and the ground reality. “One of the aims of the DP was to protect open spaces, but over the years these have been dwindling,” she said.

Aims Of A DP | Town planning is the main aim of a DP. Other goals include, but are not limited to:
Proposals for allocating the use of land for residential, industrial, commercial, agricultural and recreational purposes Designation of land for public purposes such as educational, medical and public health institutions Transport projects such as roads, highways, airports, etc Preservation and conservation of green and open spaces Proposals for flood control and curtailing river pollution
What Went Wrong With The Existing DP? | Work on the existing plan began in 1977 and was finally sanctioned in 1993. However, only 20% of the proposals were implemented

Of the 21 million sq metres to be acquired only three million has been acquired till date Another glitch in Mumbai’s DP, say urban planners, is that it is largely drafted by the BMC. In 2007, Madhav Chitale, who headed the panel that examined the reasons that led to the 26/7 deluge, told TOI that, “Town-planning as a scientific discipline is absent in the BMC.’’ He added that civic body needs to have an in-house set of trained town-planners who do not treat land as a commodity and whose plans for the city are not driven by property interests

Response To The DP For 2014-2034
The Expression of Interest is silent on the issue of local participation. Industrialist and civic activist Cyrus Guzder said the plan should be prepared at two levels. “At the official level, you have the strategists who set the vision for the city. At the polling booth level, local residents should plan how their area should be developed. The two should be integrated.’’ The idea of inviting Expression of Interest seeking conversion of salt plan lands into residential and commercial zones has been criticised by urban planners

Raj Thackeray: Ration Cards should not be proof for ID

‘Ration cards can’t be used as ID proof’

Somit Sen & Sanjeev Shivadekar | TNN

Mumbai: MNS chief Raj Thackeray has demanded that ration cards should not be allowed as an identity proof for assembly elections. He has decided to take up the issue with the chief election commissioner (CEC) in Delhi.

Thackeray submitted a memorandum in this connection to Maharashtra’s chief electoral officer Debashish Chakrabarty on Wednesday. He said the party will bring to the notice of the EC practice of using of bogus ration cards on voting day. He added that ration cards in Maharashtra did not have photographs of family members.

“In other states, the cards bear photographs. In our state, they do not have photographs and should not be allowed as proof of identity.”

He asked the EC to allow politicians to use government guest houses/bungalows during campaigns in villages and demanded a single window clearance for permissions to hold rallies, meetings and campaign trails.

Delhi Traffic Lights: Some Hope?

New Picture (72)Harassed citizens of Delhi have to endure unending traffic snarls due to poor infrastructure made worse by bad maintenance of roads, haphazard dumping of earthwork, metal rods and mulba by contractors working on various projects under the ‘watchful eyes ‘ of MCD, DDA, NDMC.

Traffic lights are almost always on a blink, adding to chaos.

The traffic police do pitch in when the traffic lights are not working, (sometimes for months on end, as in Vasant Kunj, GK I etc).

Why are the traffic lights not working? Who is answerable for the lakhs of litres of fuel wasted by the hundreds of cars, motor cycles , scooters and trucks caught in jams due to non functional traffic lights?

At last the Delhi police is promising some action. But will it deliver?

Traffic signals: Light at the end of tunnel

Upkeep Tenders Invited, Fines For Slackness

Megha Suri | TNN

New Delhi: After months of braving chaos at intersections where traffic signals have stopped working — an average of 90 across the city — there is finally respite. Delhi traffic police has invited a tender for maintenance of signals and blinkers, and this time, the contract includes stringent penalty clauses for non-performance. The contract of the existing companies end in the first week of October.

The tender, published on August 29, is for maintenance of 725 traffic signals and 424 blinkers for the next two years. It will also cover installation of new signals and blinkers. As for the 220 signals which are going to be fitted with intelligent traffic signals (ITS) before the Commonwealth Games, the agreement with the contractors will be amended to include maintenance of them as well.

After the recent downpours, over 130 traffic signals stopped working in the city, leading to complete chaos. The traffic police have now redone the contract clauses to prevent a repeat of the present chaos once the new contracts come into effect. The new agreement sets a time frame for repair of signals — all minor fault should be rectified within six hours of receipt of complaints while all major repairs and replacement work will be carried out within two days.

If any traffic signal remains non-functional for over five days, the police will not pay maintenance charge for that signal. Thereafter, a penalty of Rs 500 will be charged. Even after a work contract is awarded, delays will not be tolerated. The contractor will have to finish the assigned work within a stipulated time. Delays will call for a penalty of 10% of total bill for first 7 days and 20% thereafter.

The new contract will have a clause to ensure that contractors are not paid for cable faults and damages to controllers due to short circuits. They will be asked to fit good quality auto cut devices.

The traffic police will regularly review performance of contractors and will terminate contracts and even blacklist companies if performance is not up to the mark. For monitoring, the contractor will have to install a computerised fault monitoring system.

Said S N Shrivastava, joint commissioner of police (traffic): ‘‘We are trying to improve functioning of traffic signals and ensure monitoring. The penalty clauses in the contract have been made stringent.’’

Getting tough with contractors
Total no. of signals | 725 Total no. of blinkers | 424 No. of posts to be fitted with intelligent traffic signals | 220 No. of signals not working daily | 90 (avg) No. of signals not working after heavy rain | 130 (avg)

Non-functional signals
No maintenance charge will be paid for signals or blinkers which are not working for over 5 days. Thereafter, a penalty of Rs 500 per day will be charged

Blacklisting for shoddy work
The traffic police will regularly review performance of contractors. The contract can be cancelled and the firm blacklisted if work is not up to the mark

Higher penalties for delayed repairs
The contractor will have to finish assigned work in stipulated time. Delays will call for a penalty of 10% of total bill for first 7 days and 20% thereafter

No more cable faults
The contractor will not be paid for cable faults, the most common justification for non-functional signals. They have been asked to fit good quality auto-cut devices to prevent short-circuits

Fault monitoring system
Contractor need to install a computerized fault monitoring system within 15 days that will automatically generate a circle-wise daily activity report for faulty signals & blinkers

Andher Nagari: Delhi’s death traps courtesy MCD


Sinking feeling in civic void

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TOI team alerts city on more open pits and manholes but civic agencies seem to be faltering on their promise of covering the gaping holes by today


The TOI campaign against uncovered pits and manholes in the city seems to have stirred civic agencies into action. After TOI published the photograph of an open drain in Rajouri Garden on Thursday, the MCD promptly placed precast slabs on the drain. The civic agency had earlier too reacted to a TOI report and covered open drains and manholes in Shahdara and ITO.

Deputy commissioner, west zone, S C Kohli, said the drain cover had been broken by the sanitation department during desilting work on Wednesday but precast slabs were put back on Thursday.

‘‘The sanitation department and all executive engineers have been directed to ensure that all dug-up spaces in their wards are properly barricaded to prevent accidents and inconvenience to the public. The drain, of which a picture was published in TOI on Thursday, had been left open after its cover was broken during desilting,’’ said Kohli.

However, the civic agency was unable to provide information on the status of other gaping holes which too had featured in TOI. Though MCD had stated on Wednesday that all open pits and manholes under its jurisdiction would be covered and under-construction sites properly barricaded by Friday — a fact admitted by director, press and information, Deep Mathur — more open pits and manholes were discovered by TOI on Thursday. MCD was unable to respond to our queries on this matter.

Meanwhile, Vikas Marg again emerged as a sore point. Picture of an open pit at Vikas Marg had been published on Wednesday and PWD officials had claimed that all other troublespots would be taken care of immediately. However, two new spots were found along this stretch on Thursday.

Said a senior PWD official: ‘‘The stretch in question has been handed over to DMRC. We spoke to the chief engineer, DMRC, and were assured that corrective action would be taken.’’

Meanwhile, residents of Chandni Chowk claimed that open drains and sewers were still a problem in their area with no agency taking any action to ensure safety measures. Said Sanjay Bharghav, secretary of Chandni Chowk traders association: ‘‘Delhi Jal Board is carrying out deep sewer work along the central verge in main Chandni Chowk.

Besides a strip put by them as a safety measure, the open pits, which are very deep, are not barricaded. When it rains, these pits get filled with water making it very difficult to assess the exact depth of the pit.’’

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