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CM Devendra Fadnavis approves a master plan for the development of salt pan lands in Mumbai

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has approved a proposal to prepare a master plan for the develMumbai-salt-pan-_Subhabrata-Das6opment of salt pan lands in Mumbai. This move will see the city’s last remaining open spaces being thrown open for development.
Mumbai’s salt pan lands, spread over 5,500 acres, comprise 30% of its land area. The salt pans are located in Ghatkopar, Chembur, Mandale, Turbhe, Anik, Wadala, Kanjurmarg, Bhandup, Nahur, Mulund, Malvani and Dahisar.
Over 50% of the salt land either falls under the no-development zone or the coastal regulation zone (CRZ), which restricts any development 500 metres from the coastline. Since salt-making has been history for over a decade now, the state government has sought the land for more “socially relevant activities”.
The master plan is being prepared at the behest of the Centre that owns the land. “The Central government has indicated that it would like to know what the state government wants the land for. Hence, the decision to prepare a master plan,” said an official. A committee headed by chief secretary Swadhin Kshatriya will oversee preparation of the master plan. A government resolution detailing the task to be carried out will be published soon, said the official.
“The master plan will address deficiencies in the city such as housing, open spaces and other amenities. It will be in synergy with the BMC’s development plan, which is being revised, and with the development plans for Mumbai Port Trust Land.”
The master plan will include town-planning schemes and will look at those developments that are allowed in the CRZ areas, said the official. “We could develop gardens and playgrounds on salt pan lands that have no mangroves,” said the official, adding the master plan would eventually take the form of a development plan so that it can be implemented. On the issue of land ownership and its development, the official said once the Centre has approved of the master plan, it may consider transferring the land. “The Central government will not be in a position to develop or maintain a playground. The land would need to be transferred to the BMC or any other agency, depending on what it is used for,” said the official. In its draft housing policy, the state government has proposed to remove salt pan lands from CRZ. Further, all slums on Central government lands are proposed to be rehabilitated on 400 acres of salt pan land at Mulund.
Environmentalists have reacted sharply to the decision. “Under no circumstances should there be any construction on salt pan lands. Sea water flows into the salt marsh land according to tides and disperses. If it is built upon, it will only cause destruction,” said Navroz Modi, Bombay Environmental Action Group. D Stalin of NGO Vanashakti, said the government has been working to find ways to dilute the CRZ notification. “Without even demarcating the high tide line, a basic protective step, plans for destruction of inter-tidal wetland zones are being pushed ahead. Floods will worsen.”

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