“It is obvious they never visited the site,” said Pimenta. “When we found the mistake in the old draft, our parish had collected signatures of members and filed a memorandum with the municipal corporation. The surveyors have clearly not looked at the objections and suggestions before creating the new draft.”
Manoj Nair, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Updated: May 30, 2016 01:01 IST
Last week, when members of a Poinsur church found that the city’s revised Development Plan (DP) had marked their parish graveyard as a ‘shelter for homeless people’, they wondered whether it was a dreadful attempt at dark humour by bored surveyors.
Residents of Poinsur village, whose church dates back to the 16th century, said the cemetery has graves that are nearly a century old. “It is quite awkward and embarrassing [to find the entry in the DP]; what kind of homework did the surveyors do?” asked Alfie Quinny, a member of the church who said his great-great grandfather was buried in the cemetery in 1929.
It is obvious that the team commissioned to do the survey did not do their legwork. The plans in 1967 and 1991 – the current DP will be the city’s planning guide for 2014-34 – had marked the graveyard correctly. Quinny and his neighbours, who find the entry insulting and blasphemous, will file their objections to the entries.
In March 2015, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had released the first draft of the current DP, but had to withdraw the document as it was riddled with mistakes. Citizens filed around 50,000 objections and suggestions to be incorporated in the new draft. The revised plan, released this month, was supposed to incorporate these corrections. If the idea of the revised DP was to eliminate the glaring errors in the earlier draft, the objective has not been served; the new version is also filled with errors.
According to Godfrey Pimenta, a lawyer, the Maharashtra Town Planning Act, says the surveyors have to, apart from looking at property titles, visit the sites before drawing up the plan. In Pimenta’s locality – Marol in Andheri – the surveyors have drawn a non-existent road cutting across the church ground and parish school. The mistake has been repeated from the old draft. “It is obvious they never visited the site,” said Pimenta. “When we found the mistake in the old draft, our parish had collected signatures of members and filed a memorandum with the municipal corporation. The surveyors have clearly not looked at the objections and suggestions before creating the new draft.”
About 500 municipal engineers, town planners and support staff were involved in the fresh survey, which started a year ago, soon after the older draft was withdrawn. Mumbai is divided into 24 municipal wards, so an average of 20 municipal officials surveyed each ward. “In addition, the ward offices were asked to assist the team from the development plan department as ward-level workers will have better knowledge of the layout of localities. Despite this, they have repeated the blunders made in the earlier draft,” said Pimenta.
Mahim dargah has been marked as an orphanage in both the drafts. St Michael’s Church, a popular pilgrimage centre, and its cemetery have been marked as a school. Nariman Point, Mumbai’s first high-rise business district, where only one of the 25-odd buildings is residential, has been marked as a housing area. Hutatma Chowk, or Flora Fountain, which is made of two triangular traffic islands, was shown as a parking lot and a garden/monument in the last draft; the latest DP has not even marked the traffic islands in colours that indicate the land use.
Mumbai’s revenue maps and Ready Reckoner – the guide that gives property values in the city – are riddled with mistakes, with the names of places spelt wrongly. For instance, Amboli, a locality in Andheri (West) is marked as Ambavali in the Ready Reckoner and Ambivli in the DP. Marouli, a village in Chembur, is marked as Marvali in the Reckoner and Maravali in the plan. It is surprising that the surveyors, unlike their predecessors who did not have access to modern tools like satellite imaging, could make mistakes. One reason why the surveyors came up with the shoddy draft could have been the rush to meet the May 31 deadline they had set for themselves.