Chance to rework town planning of Mumbai amid COVID-19: Gadgil

Mumbai: The spread of COVID-19 in Mumbai and Pune is an opportunity to rework the town planning of the two prominent Maharashtra cities by stopping their vertical growth and encouraging self-contained satellite townships around them, architect Anant Gadgil has said.

New town planning rules should focus on “spread out housing”and encourage the concept of work from home for professionals, Gadgil, who is also a town planner and Congress MLC, told PTI.

He said the coronavirus has spread fast in congested areas, slums and chawls (tenements) in Mumbai and Pune, but its extent of spread is less in housing societies of the two cities.

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“Since physical distancing is not possible in congested and densely populated areas, ‘spread out housing’ is the need of the hour,” he said.

Mumbai is a linear city due to which its growth has been in the northern suburbs. But, trade and commerce centres remain at the same place as before, in south and central areas, he said.

“There should be a plan to have sub-growth centres, or self-contained satellite townships like Navi Mumbai, between Mumbai-Pune, Pune-Nashik and Nashik-Mumbai. These townships should be modelled on the lines of Chandigarh, Gandhinagar and Delhi,” he said.

While planning the sub-growth centres, industries which get land to set up units in those areas should make arrangements of accommodation nearby for 25 per cent employees, Gadgil suggested.

There should also be facilities like educational centres, health centres, shops, malls, hostelsin the sub- growth centres, and work from home concept should be encouraged there, he said.

Gadgil also suggested that granting additional floor space index (FSI) for urban development should be stopped as it results in more building construction activities, leading to more congestion, flyovers and vehicular traffic.

“This vicious circle needs to be stopped,” he said, adding that the coronavirus crisis is also an opportunity to replan cities in order to reduce vehicular pollution.

Gadgil said in new townships, residential complexes should have one room for office purpose with a separate entrance. This can be useful for home buyers like chartered accountants, lawyers, architects and doctors.

Civic bodies should give permission to such professionals to operate from those offices and not consider it as a commercial premises, he said.

Another option, Gadgil said, is to have a building for professional office space in a residentialcomplex of 10 to 15 buildings.

This will encourage the concept of work from home and reduce vehicular pollution, he added.

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