2017 - 2018
Erstwhile constituents of NAGAR now amalgamated:
Clean Air (CA); CitiSpace (CS); Clean Sweep Forum (CSF)
NAGAR has been consistently advocating with the concerned authorities at the local and state level for the implementation of the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood & Regulation of Vending) Act, 2014. NAGAR wrote twice to the Government of Maharashtra – to the Chief Minister & to the Principal Secretary, Urban Development – to reiterate the urgent necessity for formulation of the Maharashtra State Street Vending Scheme and Rules. The draft Maharashtra Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Rules, 2015 was published on October 07, 2015 and NAGAR submitted its suggestions and objections on November 03, 2015. However, the Rules were notified in the Gazette only on August 03, 2016. Though the Scheme should have been drafted before the Rules, as directed by the Central Act, it was notified only on January 09, 2017. A meeting was convened on December 03, 2015 by the Urban Development Department, Government of Maharashtra, to give a hearing to all the suggestions & objections received by the government. NAGAR was invited & did attend. However, the meeting did not turn out to be fruitful.
In May 2017, the MCGM invited applications from organisations to nominate a person as representatives to be part of the Town Vending Committee (TVC). NAGAR sent an application for the NGO category to represent the civil society on the TVC. However we were not selected despite our eligibility and decades of experience.
NAGAR was a signatory to an open letter dated November 29, 2017 addressed to the Chief Minister, Mr. Devendra Fadnavis that stated concern for regulation of hawkers in the city of Mumbai. The letter highlighted the “Principles of Vending Zones & Holding Capacity of Zone” that were to be kept in mind as required by the Central Act 2014 when drafting the Scheme of Street Vending for the Municipal Corporation / Council to be published by the Government of Maharashtra.
Followed by the High Court Order of November 01, 2017, the MCGM invited suggestions & objections to the 2015 hawker survey via a Tweet from Ms. Nidhi Choudhary, DMC (Special) on January 05, 2018 listing 85,891 hawker pitches. NAGAR responded objecting to the fact that as no Guidelines had been published to accompany the list it was not possible for citizens to figure out on what basis each zone and pitch was demarcated. Also, the directions given by the Bombay High Court order of 2017 as well as the Supreme Court order of 2007 were not followed.
On January 16, 2018, NAGAR met the DMC (Special), Ms. Nidhi Choudhary, who is Secretary to the TVC at a citizen group meeting and insisted that when the TVC is formed MCGM must upload details of the agenda & minutes of all its meetings to maintain transparency. Ms. Choudhary agreed to this suggestion. She informed the group that the first meeting of the TVC was due in February 2018. However, it was scheduled only on March 22, 2018 but was cancelled without citing any reason. No date has been fixed so far for the meeting.
Meanwhile, NAGAR obtained information under RTI dated January 09, 2018, about MCGM’s guidelines issued by a Circular in the month of September 2015 for the demarcation of hawking, non-hawking and restricted hawking zones. These guidelines, we presume were followed while demarcating the 85,891 hawker pitches in the first survey in the same year, i.e. 2015. However, from the listing of zones and pitches this does not seem to be the case.
Public Open Spaces
NAGAR wrote a letter to the Chief Minister, Mr. Devendra Fadnavis on dated February 27, 2018 urging him to direct the MCGM to take back all the public open spaces, without making an exception and formulate the open space policy. NAGAR stated that the CM must revive & re-examine the Draft Report submitted by the Expert Committee constituted by a G.R. dated November 03, 2012, under the Chairmanship of the Municipal Commissioner to formulate a ‘Uniform Policy for Comprehensive Planning & Development of Open Spaces within the limits of MCGM’ & direct the MCGM to use it as a basis to formulate an open space policy for the betterment of the city & its people. NAGAR was quoted in news reports on this issue.
NAGAR filed two RTIs seeking information on:
1. The Policy framed and presently being implemented by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai to utilize public open spaces, designated as grounds, for non-sport activities (07.02.2018). NAGAR received a response from the Garden Dept., MCGM citing a link from the MCGM website which contained a Circular dated November 02, 2015 that speaks only about the procedure for issuing outdoor event permissions.
2. Regarding public open spaces in Greater Mumbai where underground pay & park has been provided for and / or proposed (26.02.2018) – addressed to the Superintendent of Gardens. NAGAR’s application has been further redirected.
NAGAR was quoted in a news article covering the issue of underground pay & park, published in Zee Marathi Disha.
NAGAR did a site visit & prepared a case study of a public open space in Mahim as a pilot study to assert its stand that restoration of public open spaces can be done within MCGM’s budget and thus, all the public open spaces should be taken back by the MCGM, without any exception, to be maintained by them. NAGAR wrote to the Municipal Commissioner, Mr. Ajoy Mehta stating the hurdles faced by NAGAR in convincing the ward officials in restoring the open space and also suggested ways in which rejuvenation can be done. Corporate funding was also not forthcoming as the companies believed that MCGM had funds to undertake such a programme.
NAGAR wrote to the Municipal Commissioner objecting to MCGM’s proposed facility of an underground pay & park on a public open space at Byculla. This would amount to change of land use, depriving citizens of this space and loss of permeability of the public open space due to concretization of the ground for parking. NAGAR was quoted in news reports on this issue.
Development Plan 2034
The ownership of three land parcels – Bandra ‘A’ Block, Oshiwara District Centre and Parigkhadi – was transferred from MMRDA to MCGM and suggestions and objections were invited from the public to incorporate them in the proposed Development Plan 2034. NAGAR sent its suggestions and objections to the Chief Engineer (Development Plan), MCGM and was called for a hearing to discuss the same. NAGAR stated that these three land parcels are heavily encroached and need to be planned keeping the CRZ notification in mind. Also, a mandatory buffer of 6 meters on both sides of the Mithi River must be planned and maintained.
Forts of Mumbai
As a step further to the publication of NAGAR’s book titled “Forts of Mumbai – Abandoned Treasures, a project for rejuvenation of Forts was taken up. For this, NAGAR began working closely with the relevant government authorities, namely Dr. Tejas Garge, Director, Directorate of Archaeology & Museums, Government of Maharashtra and Mr. Bipin Chandra Negi, Superintending Archaeologist, Mumbai Circle, Archaeological Survey of India (Sion), Government of India.
NAGAR has completed its work on the project report titled “Rejuvenation of the Forts of Mumbai: A Tribute to Our Rich and Varied Heritage” and plans to approach the state government to take this project forward. A conservation architect was enlisted for part of this work.
The objective of the report is to advocate the need for conservation of these protected monuments and rejuvenation of their sites as public open spaces and tourist areas.
Quality of Air
NAGAR filed an RTI (21.12.2017) seeking information from the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) about a comprehensive programme for prevention, control or abatement of air pollution and measures taken for its execution. NAGAR had also asked for a list of defaulters against whom action has been taken by the MPCB for causing air pollution. NAGAR received a response from the MPCB stating that no such plan has been prepared yet. However, the RTI was forwarded to its Sub-Regional Offices at Mumbai, Thane, Kalyan, Raigad, Navi Mumbai, Nasik, Kolhapur, Nagpur, Aurangabad, Amravati and Chandrapur. NAGAR has received a defaulters list from SRO Offices at Sangli, Amravati, Ratnagiri and Thane but not Mumbai!
NAGAR, as CitiSpace, continues to be approached by the SRA, developers as well as by citizens, regarding proposed development on reserved public open spaces in projects under the Slum Rehabilitation Scheme. The layouts shared have been studied and scrutinized, and meetings have been held with developers as well as representatives from the SRA for approval or disapproval of the proposed projects as per the directions of the Bombay High Court Order in WP 1152 of 2002.
Although not SRA projects it is noteworthy that proposals for four redevelopment projects of BDD Chawls were shown to NAGAR by MHADA to get its NOC regarding the aggregate of all reserved public open spaces on the respective plots have been maintained /realigned as per the directives of the Bombay High Court in the SRA matter.
Concerned citizens have also approached NAGAR to seek guidance in their own fight to preserve their public open spaces vis-a-vis SRA schemes. A digital database of all such cases is being prepared, to maintain a record of all reserved public open spaces which have come under SRA projects, to ascertain whether they have been duly returned to the city and to assist NAGAR in its endeavour to preserve all public open spaces.
Response to Public Notifications
Proposed Modification in the Sanctioned Planning Proposals in Sector-5 of Dharavi Notified Area (No. SRA/DRP/T.P./File No.235-C/64/2018, dated 05.03.2018)
The said notification was regarding inclusion of Mahim Nature Park in the Dharavi Notified Area for the Dharavi Redevelopment Project (DRP).
NAGAR strongly objected to the notification in entirety and demanded that it be withdrawn immediately. Asserting that no development or redevelopment can be done on any public open space or green space in Greater Mumbai and that these spaces must remain non-buildable, accessible, open to sky and permeable, NAGAR demanded that MNP be excluded from DRP. MNP must be de-linked from potential development ventures & remain protected as a stand-alone entity unconditionally. Concern regarding potential increment in allowable FSI for the development of the area was raised, as it would lead to an ecological disaster and a severe rise in the infrastructural pressure, threatening life & property of the inhabitants.
Proposed Modification to DCR regarding 'Accommodation Reservation' Principle; Notice under Sec. 37 (1AA) of the MR&TP Act, 1966 (No.TPB-4317/103/CR-67/2017/UD-11, dated 16.03.2018)
The said notification refers to the modification to the “accommodation reservation” principle in the DCR. As per the DCR, the lands reserved for public amenities, social facilities and utilities in the DP shall be regulated by allowing the owner for development subject to certain conditions under this principle. The said notification modifies this principle and allows the reservation to be developed in parts as described in appended Schedule to the notification which states reservations like recreational and educational. NAGAR strongly objected to the said modification.
The prolific misuse of the Sec. 37 (1AA) of the MR&TP Act, 1966 to justify arbitrary modifications as “in public interest” and hence “urgent” must be stopped. The system must have checks & balances. Development of recreational & educational reservations in parts would be detrimental to the city. Also, the regulations for side margins must be retained as the resultant densification would increase pressure on land & threat to health.
Environment Clearance of buildings & construction proposals, objective criteria laid down for grant of Environment Clearance, increasing in the threshold of Built-Up Area [MoEFCC – S.O.1132 (E), dated 13.03.2018]
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change issued the said notification to streamline the process of permissions for buildings & constructions sector by laying down environment criteria & threshold limits to achieve housing for all by 2022 with the objective of affordable housing for weaker sections. The current threshold limit is above 20,000 sq. m of built up area; it is proposed to increase the threshold limit above 50,000 sq. m of built up area.
NAGAR strongly objected to the said modification. So far as building & construction is concerned, 20,000 sq. m of built up area is a good threshold taking into consideration the need for protecting the environment. The notification is contradictory in nature as on one hand it speaks of raising the threshold limit to 50,000 sq. m and on the other it lists environmental conditions to be integrated in building permissions. Also, being a Central government notification, the environmental conditions mentioned therein are very generic & not applicable to a city like Mumbai.
Proposed Modification to Regulation 33 (14) of DCR, Notice under Sec. 37 (1AA) of MR&TP Act, 1966 (No. TPB 4316/4/CR-133/2016/UD-11, dated 09.02.2018)
The said notification is regarding government’s proposed modification to the Regulations 33 (10) and 33 (14) of the DCR for implementation of Slum Rehabilitation Scheme/Rental Housing with creation of Permanent Transit Camp Tenements by availing additional F.S.I.
NAGAR strongly objected to the said notification as it promoted densification of the city & suburbs. This will put a huge burden on the amenities and add pressure on the existing infrastructure.
New Regulation to allow additional F.S.I. for “Pradhan Mantri Aawaas Yojana” in Agricultural/ No Development Zone (No.TPS-1817/UOR-121/C.R.-77/18/UD-13, dated 26.02.2018)
The said notification adds a new regulation to the DCRs of all the Planning Authorities to permit “Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana” in Agriculture / No Developable Zone for the purposes of providing Affordable Housing to the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) & Low Income Group (LIG).
NAGAR suggested that all “non-buildable” reservations should be incorporated in the conditions where development shall not be permitted and they deserve preservation or protection.
Government of Maharashtra GRMisc.-2018/No.14/Accounts & Treasury, dated 21.03.2018
The said Government Resolution is regarding a Committee constituted for studying 'Floating TDR' and suggesting measures to:
- release floating TDR for the development of the protected land in possession with Central & State controlled Railway, Defence, Heritage, CRZ, Courts & Jail, National Parks, Roads and Highways, Ports, Forts, Public enterprise
- buy & sell the floating TDR by legal means to raise funds for various developmental schemes of the government
This study report will be submitted by the said Committee within 6 months.
NAGAR wrote to the Finance Department, Government of Maharashtra that this is a futile exercise as there can be no floating TDR where intrinsically no development potential exists. CRZ, National Parks, Forts, Heritage are non-buildable areas and hence, there is no question of a floating TDR applicable to such areas.
Solid Waste Management
NAGAR visited the MCGM’s Vermi-composting project at Cooper hospital run by “Aastha” women’s Self-Help Group (SHG). It is an initiative of the K-West ward under Swachh Bharat Mission. Mr. Subhash Dalvi, OSD (SWM) has been guiding the SHG in this project. The manure composted at Cooper hospital is not being sold yet. The reason being not much is left to sell after using it for the garden at the hospital.
There are around 70 projects run by Mr. Dalvi at present (as told by him). He began working with Mr. A. K. Jain and till date has been training people in SWM & composting.
NAGAR conducted an awareness campaign on traffic rules through its social media platform like Facebook and twitter.
NAGAR was assisted by volunteers from TATA ProEngage to promote its programs through social media platforms, like Facebook & twitter. An action plan of 6 months, i.e. January 27 – July 07, 2018 was prepared by the ProEngagers. A content bank was prepared by the ProEngagers & the NAGAR Office together. The approval for content was taken from the Executive Committee members before posting it on our social media platforms. The messages were very well targeted, achieved and well received as seen by the responses received!
NAGAR trustee, Nayana Kathpalia made a presentation at the “The Inclusion Project” organised by our Trustee Parul Kumtha of Nature Nurture Architects at Sir J. J. College of Architecture. She spoke on “Citizen’s Involvement Initiative: The fight for Public Open Spaces”
NAGAR Associate Director, Anjali Pandit delivered a lecture on “Sustainable Urban Ecology & Environment” at the College of Social Work, Nirmala Niketan, Goregaon for the students pursuing a Post-Graduate Diploma course in Corporate Social Responsibility.
NAGAR attended a panel discussion on “Mumbai goes Electric” conducted by MP Ensystems, BlobCity & ThinkTag. It was regarding electrifying Mumbai’s public transport.
NAGAR attended MCGM’s Solid Waste Management Exhibition at National Sports Club of India, Worli.
NAGAR attended a talk by Mr. Ajoy Mehta, Municipal Commissioner, MCGM at ORF, Mumbai where he spoke about MCGM’s budget 2018 – 2019: Matching Finances & Functions post-GST.
NAGAR trustees Gerson da Cunha and Nayana Kathpalia attended a RTI meet arranged by Mr. Shailesh Gandhi at Moneylife's office in Dadar.
Ms. Devashree Vyas was recruited as our Programme Coordinator to manage NAGAR’s programs and activities. Her role was to to lay down a streamlined plan of action for NAGAR’s programs related to city’s structural, social and ecological needs. Her tasks specifically involved dealing with urban design and conservation. She was also responsible for networking and maintaining external relations as needed by NAGAR.
Ms. Varsha Lingayat was recruited as our Office Administrator to manage the office administration and day-to-day affairs. Mr. Dilip Palav was appointed as an Office Assistant.
NAGAR’s logo was registered as a Trademark on April 25, 2017