Batting for more affordable homes, the Urban Design Research Institute (UDRI) has asked the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to unlock its 10,650 acres of land in Manori, Gorai and Uttan.
It has said that rather than letting only the rich and famous construct farmhouses and bungalows there, the land can be used for making more houses for the public.
“The government has acquired the land at throwaway prices. It should only be used for the common man,” said Pankaj Joshi, executive director, UDRI.
MMRDA has prepared its 2022 development plan for Gorai, Manori and Uttan in which it plans to convert the areas’ no-development, green and preservation zones into development zones (I) and tourism development zones.
UDRI has raised objection to this. “We have submitted our integrated development plan of the areas. Mumbai has a shortfall of 15 lakh houses. We need 10,000 acres to construct these many houses, and this land can fulfil it,” said Joshi.
He added that the state can connect this location to the other suburbs by bringing in public transport, such as extending the Charkop-Andheri metro corridor and constructing coastal roads.
“Government always cries that it doesn't have enough land to construct affordable houses. Now, it has the land but doesn't want to use it for the common man. Instead, it is allowing affluent people to use it. Our suggestion is feasible but MMRDA is ignoring it. This is inadequacy on its part,” Joshi alleged, adding that they have written to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan. “We are urging the CM to take a decision that will benefit the common man.” A copy of the letter is with DNA.
When contacted, Uma Adusumilli, chief of MMRDA's planning division, said they received around 16,000 suggestions and objections regarding their plan. “We have submitted it to the state government. Now, the decision is in its hands," she said.
However, environmentalist Rushi Aggarwal, while lauding the idea for more affordable houses, said that "this dream shouldn't become a nightmare".
“Once the metro corridor is extended, Gorai and Manori residents will be able to reach Bandra in 20 minutes. The better connectivity shouldn't end up making the affordable houses unaffordable. That's my only concern. Government should conduct a proper study of these areas. Only after that should a final decision be taken,” he said.