URBAN PLANNING

As the city continues to grow and evolve, so does the need for robust fire safety preparedness. Chennai has had its fair share of fire accidents, claiming lives and gutting properties. This Diwali weekend, the fire department received more than 100 calls, most of them for minor incidents. According to the data from the Tamil Nadu Fire and Rescue Services, there has been a noticeable uptick in fire mishaps over the past few years. In 2022, Tamil Nadu recorded over 19,206 fire-related emergencies, and 67 lives lost to fire hazards. Property worth 29.76 crores was lost, underlining the financial impact…

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Every season brings its own positives and challenges for Aapli Mumbai. Monsoon is over and we are now grappling with the onset of winter and air pollution. Whatever the season and its challenges, it is important to look at the systemic issues and keep the focus on solutions. Only the collective will and efforts of the people and the administration can make the city more liveable. With that thought, Citizen Matters had organised an Essay Competition – Mumbai Monsoon Masterminds, calling for opinions from residents of Mumbai to share their experiences about monsoons and offer unique solutions. In the following…

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On 3rd October, the State Cabinet approved a proposed amendment under the Maharashtra Apartment Ownership Act to forcibly evict tenants that opposed redevelopment. The state has more than 1 lakh buildings that fall under the purview of this Act. The proposal was submitted by a 15-member committee of the State Housing Federation. The committee was formed in 2020 by the state government under the then divisional joint registrar Jyoti Latkar-Mete. The proposal was finalised in 2021 and submitted to the state cooperation in April this year. Once the amendment comes into force, members who refuse to vacate their flats for redevelopment in…

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That Mumbai is space-starved with one of the worst ratios of people to open spaces, is common knowledge. In this highly congested city, it is the public parks and grounds that offer respite to citizens, who often live in housing societies with little or no place for walks, or for children to run around. So, when the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) came up with a proposal that some of these open spaces could be given to private players on temporary leases for upkeep, through an adoption scheme, citizens and civic activists have come together to oppose it. Activists have met…

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Keeping the slum dwellers at the core of its planning, the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) scheme was initially conceptualised way back in 1995. With about half the Mumbai's population living in informal settlements, the SRA scheme is critical for ensuring better quality housing for all Mumbaikars. The city has about 2149 SRA projects, involving 5,29,434 proposed tenements and 2,49,887 tenements already handed over to people. As we saw in the first part of this series, the buildings are poorly maintained and affecting the not just quality of life but also causing extreme stress to the residents due to various issues.…

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At the entrance of the Jankalyan Society at Dahisar, near the lift, a blackboard asks residents to clear their pending maintenance charges. Signed by the building's Mahila Mandal Sudhar Samiti (MMSS) or resident women's group, the note also urges residents that they would be able to offer better services to residents if maintenance dues are paid on time.  Though a number of garbage bins lie below their building, the provisional committee members of the Society are convinced that their building is cleaner and better maintained compared to other buildings provided by the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) Mumbai. Even so, at…

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Over the past two decades there has been much political posturing about turning various Indian cities into a ‘Singapore or Shanghai’. While we may have mimicked the glass and steel façade buildings, airports and some freeways, why is it that we have not been able to mimic the public realm and walkability aspects of these and other cities? Is it the municipal bodies and politicians who are responsible for the sorry state of pedestrian infrastructure and the public realm? Or do we, as a society, hold pedestrians in disdain?  Providing a great walking experience is one of the easiest (and…

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With the pandemic threat now largely behind us and life returning to normalcy, this year has witnessed a notable shift in the enthusiasm of citizens and approach of state and civic authorities towards the Ganesh Chaturthi festival. In contrast to previous years, many groups wish to celebrate and the officials have eased many restrictions, and also encouraged and promoted greater celebrations. In Mumbai, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has been inundated with as many as 3,500 applications from Sarvajanik (public) Ganeshotsav mandals from various parts of the city. Among these applications, 2,900 have already received a go-ahead for their festive…

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Chennai has waited for more than a decade for the completion of the Port-Maduravoyal Expressway project. The infrastructure project was commissioned with a view to decongesting Chennai roads, particularly from traffic from containers that head to the city’s port. The funding agency for the Port-Maduravoyal Expressway project is the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) which is also responsible for its maintenance and management. Disagreements between successive state governments have resulted in the project lying suspended for an inordinately long period. Over all these years, commuters have been driving past incomplete pillars where the elevated expressway should have been. Shanavas…

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Completion of the Gokhale bridge delayed again The Gokhale bridge, which was supposed to get ready before Diwali this year, will take more time. During the assembling of the girders that came from Ambala last month, it was found that the place for the cranes to move in the area was not sufficient. So, 28 structures affecting the movement of the crane and the pace of work, were demolished. Of these 13 were residential structures and 15 commercial.  According to civic officials, 30 days are needed to assemble the girder and another 15 days to launch it and push towards…

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