Over 100 groups representing the urban poor staged a protest at the Azad Maidan here on Tuesday, as they have been left out of the Development Plan (DP) being prepared by the municipality. This section which constitutes 52.5 per cent of Mumbai’s population fears losing its foothold in the city. The formal recognition of slums has been a major challenge in improving living conditions in urban settlements across India. The latest survey prepared by the municipal body on the Existing Land Use (ELU) shows that it has not mapped the city’s slums. This means it leaves about 65.29 lakh people out of the planning process. The ELU has also left out the homeless, hawkers and koliwadas. These groups form a large part of the city’s workforce.
“The ELU is a crucial document as it will form the basis of the new DP, which will be in use for the next 20 years. Not including the above categories and not demarcating the correct land use is like not acknowledging their presence,” said Pankaj Joshi, executive director of the Urban Design Research Institute.
People fear that not demarcating their space makes them vulnerable to losing their land to builders, as well as not getting adequate facilities. “If the interiors of slums are not marked, the resources and the lack of amenities in these areas are also being ignored,” said Aravind Unni from Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA).
Civic standing committee chairman Rahul Shewale said the weaker sections of society had suffered because they had not been made part of the DP of 2001. “We will try and look at how to improve it this time around,” he said.
The groups submitted a “People’s Vision Document” to municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte who assured them of transparency and inclusion. The document focuses on six major issues including housing, education, health, transport, waste management and open spaces. The groups aim to have a city which is child-friendly, women-friendly, youth-friendly and differently-abled friendly.
“I have got the People’s Vision Document. We are following the right process while preparing the DP,” said Mr. Kunte.