At Mumbai civic body, Sena, BJP join hands to pass proposal for acquiring land for garden

In a rare moment of cooperation, the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came together at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) general body meeting to pass a proposal for the acquisition of a plot at Exsar, Borivali, which has been reserved to create a public garden as per the Development Plan.

The meeting was organised via video-conferencing on Tuesday.

The administration had pitched the proposal to acquire the plot using any of the three options: by availing BMC’s accommodation/reservation policy in which the developer has to hand over 70% of a reserved plot to the civic body at the time of redevelopment of the existing building on the plot; by offering transferred development rights (TDR) to the owner of the plot; or by paying the owner the cost of the land as per the present ready reckoner rate.

Leader of the Opposition in the civic body, Ravi Raja from the Congress, and his party colleagues logged out of the meeting against the decision. “I moved an amendment to the administration’s proposal, opposing the transfer of money to the land owner, and instead availing the options of TDR or accommodation/reservation policy for acquiring this land. BMC cannot pay money to the land owner, as its financial health is poor currently. However, the BJP and the Shiv Sena rejected my motion. So Congress staged a walk-out,” said Raja.

However, Bhalchandra Shirsat from BJP said that the municipal commissioner’s proposal already asks for permission to avail either of the three options. “Thus, Raja’s proposal duplicated that concept. The original proposal is already agreeing to Ravi Raja’s demand. The proposal that was passed allows BMC to make an agreement with the land owner, and mutually decide which of the tree options to avail to acquire this land.”

The original nod to acquire the land was given by the general body in 2009, by paying money to the owner, as the accommodation reservation policy did not exist at the time.

As per that original proposal, the owner of the 5,798 square metre plot wanted to develop it and submitted a purchase notice to BMC. The civic body was due to pay the owner Rs180.16 crore via the collector’s office as compensation for acquiring the land, of which Rs83.27 crore was paid in 2019 for one portion of the land. BMC is yet to pay Rs96.89 crore to the collector for the remaining portion.

Borivli corporator Sheetal Mhatre from the Shiv Sena also opposed the move. “There are about 3,000 families living in the buildings on this land. BMC has no plans to relocate them. I demanded assurance that these families will be relocated in-situ. What is the point of acquiring land to develop a garden when there are residents living there, especially when BMC has no immediate plans to move them?” she said.

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