The state government wants to move ahead with its plan to start up salt pans in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) for growth.
The master plan would explore possibilities of creating salt pans across MMR and just how much can be utilized for different functions. Of those 5,379 acres, the Mumbai Development Plan (DP) 2034 has suggested 1,781 acres (721 hectares) to be opened up for development. Salt pans in Mumbai will be considered in the first stage, while such lands in the rest part of MMR will be a part of this next stage of the master plan, based on information.
In 2015, the Maharashtra government had requested the MMRDA to prepare a master plan for MMR. Its first survey of 2016 has shown that hardly 25 acres or 0.5percent of the 5,379 acres from town can be developed.
Further, its 2016 report emphasizes on the importance of salt pans as a shield against floods in Mumbai.
However, senior officials in the town planning department stated there have been a number of alterations in government regulations post the poll.
“We’ve got inputs from the DP 2034 also today. We’ll run a ground survey, taking mangroves under account,” said the official. He said that the plan for Mumbai is going to be reached in phase-1, post which salt pans in MMR is going to be looked at. The DP 2034 also earmarks 321 acres to be earmarked for affordable housing.
The extended suburbs, for example Mira-Bhayander and Virar in Palghar district, which has witnessed a real-estate boom over the last two decades, also has salt pans.
Debi Goenka, from Conservation Action Trust, an NGO working for environmental causes, said the movement will be catastrophic for the city. He stated,”It’s absolutely not a fantastic idea. It is going to just be a disaster. Since salt pans fall in the coastal regulation zone-1 category, no structure can be allowed here.”
Priya Kanchan, a Mumbai-based urban planner said,”The motive MMRDA believes this as an opportunity for growth is because there hasn’t been any research done on salt pans. The MMRDA should hire think tanks to look at salt pans for ecological impacts.”