The Curious Case of 27 Villages: Bhuvana

Kalyan City falls under  the jurisdiction of Thane district, state of Maharashtra and part of the urban agglomeration of Mumbai Metropolitan Region. The city along with Dombivali is a ‘Twin City’ and administered by Kalyan Dombivali Municipal Corporation (KDMC) from 1983. Kalyan has a rich history of being a port city for many years (for around 2 millennia) until siltation and rise of Mumbai City. The railway station in Kalyan – Kalyan Junction is one of the busiest stations in India. The city is itself is 9th biggest in Maharashtra and 28th in the country.

Owing to its proximity to Mumbai City, and excellent connectivity – both to the Mumbai city and other parts of India – through Kalyan Railway Station, this place witnessed unprecedented urbanisation and development. It’s growth was at its peak during the 1980s. Due to lesser cost of living and real estate prices compared to Mumbai, people working in Mumbai city moved to Kalyan-Dombivali and started settling here. This led to the increase in middle class population here. Lot of housing societies started coming up. Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) industrial estate in Dombivali is a centre for manufacturing a variety of industrial and consumer goods. It provides employment to a large number of people.

In the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) plan 1996, considering the growth potential of Kalyan-Dombivali and other surrounding regions like Ulhasnagar, Ambarnath, etc. and also in the context of growing congestion in the Mumbai city, these areas were identified for decongesting Mumbai. During the first year of my fieldwork, I had to interact with a family residing in Mankhurd. They told a lot of their extended family have been rehabilitated to Kalyan and they also have an abode in Kalyan. That’s when I got to know a lot of residents staying in the transit camps of Chembur, Mankhurd, and other areas were rehabilitated to Kalyan during that period.

Now, having established the rapid urbanisation and growth potential of this region over the years, and in the context of the administration of KDMC, I found the case of 27 villages (19 falling in Kalyan Tehsil and remaining under Ambernath Tehsil) and their fight for development interesting.

Background

According to the Draft Development Plan for Notified Area of 27 Villages of Kalyan and Ambarnath Tehsils of Thane District, Maharashtra 2008 – 2028, the Notified Area, published in 2011, comprising the 27 villages of the Kalyan and Ambarnath Tehsils, was part of the Kalyan Complex Notified Area (KCNA) from 15th March 1976 till 22nd July 1992. In 1992, the status of these villages was changed from being part of the KCNA to being included within the Kalyan Municipal Corporation. In 1996, a draft development plan for the area within the Kalyan Municipal Corporation limits, including the 27 villages, was prepared by the Kalyan – Dombivali Municipal Corporation. However, the Government of Maharashtra did not sanction the proposals of the draft development plan for the 27 villages. (Draft DP, 2011)

In July 2002, this was further revised and the villages were excluded from the Kalyan–
Dombivali Municipal Corporation limits and were made part of the Kalyan and Ambarnath Tehsils. The Zilla Parishad of Thane was appointed in December 2005 as the planning authority for the 27 villages. As these villages have never been within the jurisdiction of one sole authority, and most of the previous planning efforts being confined to urban centers, the Notified Area lacks an integrated development strategy that would enable the emergence of a consistent and regular growth pattern. (Draft DP, 2011)

The villagers of the 27 villages have been fighting for want of development and have been boycotting civic body elections from 1995 – 2002, after which they were moved out of KDMC and were functioning as gram panchayats. In June 2014, it was announced that these villages will be included again in KDMC and the corporation promised the villagers to resolve the issues.

The villages have formed a united body called ‘Sangarsh Samiti’ and have been fighting for a separate civic body out of KDMC all these years. There are numerous news reports quoting the Sangarsh Samiti activists voicing their concerns ranging from having a better control over development when they were gram panchayats to not having any development under KDMC but are forced to pay higher taxes. In December 2014, when the BJP government came to power in the State level, it was announced again that the 27 villages will be excluded from KDMC and a separate Municipal Council will be formed. This move was seen in the context of Shiv Sena – BJP rift. In 2015 civic body elections, the villagers were lured to cast their votes with the promise of excluding them from KDMC and forming a separate municipal council.

As per the news reports, as of July 2018, the process of forming a separate municipal council for the notified area is in the final stage. Also separate funds were announced from the state government for the development of proposed area. And as recently as Nov 2018, the villagers were protesting in the streets demanding separate municipal council and exclusion from KDMC.

After being excluded from KDMC in 2002, the process of drafting a separate development plan was in progress and in the public domain, the draft plan for the notified area for 2008 to 2028 is available. But the approval status of the plan is not known and considering the villagers’ protest for a separate municipal council till date, the plan has not seen implementation yet.

The KDMC website has no documents related to the notified area. The draft plan is available in the MMRDA (Mumbai Metropolitan Development Authority) website. According to MMRDA notification dated 11th March 2015, MMRDA is designated as the Special Planning Authority (SPA) for the notified area.

The case is very relevant to understand how empowered the urban local bodies (ULBs) are in terms of decision making – be it gram panchayats or KDMC. Since the 1992 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments we take pride in having three tier governance system and decentralisation of powers to empower local bodies. This case illustrates that none of the local bodies are empowered to make decision and state control is very much there – considering MMRDA being the SPA for the notified area and delay in the process of forming a separate civic body. People are used for political gain and region has seen no development with so many changes in the administration.

27Villages
Source: Draft Development Plan for Notified Area of 27 Villages of Kalyan and Ambarnath Tehsils of Thane District, Maharashtra 2008 – 2028

References:

  1. Draft Development Plan for Notified Area of 27 Villages of Kalyan and Ambarnath Tehsils of Thane District, Maharashtra
    2008 – 2028
  2. Urban Development Department Notice: No.TPS-1212/1697/C.R. NO. 101/(Part-1)/13/U.D.-12, 11th March 2015
  3. https://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-kdmc-s-27-villages-want-separate-civic-body-2123228
  4. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/boycott-call-of-27-villages-fail-candidates-file-nominations/
  5. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/maharashtra-cm-gives-nod-to-development-plan-for-kalyan-bhiwandi-villages/articleshow/45702307.cms
  6. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai/kdmc-polls-shiv-sena-bjp-wait-to-see-who-will-blink-first/story-mgI4kOa487yX9dOjH6mk9L.html
  7. https://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/process-of-forming-new-council-with-27-kdmc-villages-in-final-118071000747_1.html

 

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