Social Infrastructure: Suggestions & Objections on the Proposed Draft DP

The UDPFI guidelines state that social amenities and infrastructure are “the basic requirement of urban life and its adequacy and accessibility are two important ingredients and key contributors in the upgradation and enrichment of quality of urban life which is the primary objective of an planned development effort.” However, social infrastructure is nowhere close to being the primary objective of the DP. The inadequacy and inaccessibility to health, educational, socio-cultural and recreational facilities and services is perhaps one of the most urgent crisis in the city, and the DP has done little to address this problem. The Social infrastructure norms for health, education and socio-cultural facilities have been set at extremely low levels. In contrast, benchmarks for residential, commercial and transport are generously prescribed to match national norms and global standards. This selective “pragmatism” is of serious concern, and unacceptable.

1. Area norms, quantity norms and distance norms for health, education and socio-cultural facilities must be benchmarked and provided according to UDPFI or NBCI norms (whichever is lower).

2. Innovative methods of sharing open spaces, intensive development of plots and multiple use facilities may be adopted to overcome land constraints and achieve the national benchmarks – provided a clear methodology is formulated, and guidelines and rules to ensure these function as planned are set up.

3. Considering Mumbai’s land constraints, and the availability of a long coastline, public open spaces in Mumbai could be benchmarked lower, but the NBCI norms of 3.0 sqm of open space at the residential cluster level for low income developments must be ensured.

4. Land exaction for public use through redevelopment must be discontinued – land must be acquired for public use through reservations.

5. Accommodation reservations in the form of handing over reserved lands to trusts and private entities, or by providing incentives to land owners to develop the said reservation must be discontinued. Public facilities must be built by the MCGM after acquiring land from the owner.

6. All public facilities for basic health and education must be built and maintained by the MCGM to ensure universal access. Private facilities, if any, must be built in addition to the national norms, not as a substitute for public facilities.

7. According to National Urban Health Mission norms, the city must build another 199 health centres.

8. The MCGM must build an additional 112 maternity hospitals as per NBCI norms (1 per 100,000 persons) after surveying the distribution of the existing 28 to ensure access and adequacy.

9. At least 49 general hospitals must be built in the city as per NBCI, especially in areas where there is poor access to healthcare.

10. The city needs to build and provide access to 1240 more primary and 1600 municipal run secondary schools as per NBCI norms

11. New categories for socio-cultural infrastructure (markets, public libraries, theatres, cultural centres) built and run by the MCGM must introduced with the aim of creating a diverse and secular public sphere, and to address increasing social polarization and ghettoisation in the city.

12. New categories for social infrastructure to address the needs of the informal sector must be introduced. Facilities for street vendors, naka workers, working women, auto and taxi drivers, waste segregation and sorting, etc. must be built to provide infrastructure and regulations.

13. Social infrastructure must be introduced carefully near and within informal settlements to support and facilitate upgradation and improvements. Basic health and education and socio-cultural facilities must be introduced with the participation of residents of self-built communities.

14. Pavements must be categorised as soci-cultural infrastructure and 1/3rd widths of all non-arterial streets must be provided with pavements. Pavements must also be equipped to support informal street vending as per the Street Vendors Act of 2014.

15. Basic social infrastructure (dispensaries, health posts, primary schools, etc) must not be provided by land pooling. These are necessities, and are part of the welfare responsibilities of the state and cannot be left to local contingencies. These must be reserved in the DP and provided.

16. The suburbs are extremely deficient in health infrastructure as compared to the island city. The city level plan must ensure the equitable distribution of these facilities across in different parts of the city.

17. The DP must articulate and declare clear social objectives with respect to healthcare, education and the development of a secular public sphere, identify the physical components for the achievement of such objectives and make provisions for them in the Development Plan.

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