A bevy of Bollywood A-listers made their presence felt at a meeting convened by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray to discuss the controversial development plan (DP) for the city here.
The cine stars called for a dialogue between citizens and government to plan the vision for the city.
“If citizens are protesting against the new DP, government should rethink and take decisions in the best interest of the city,” they said.
Actor-filmmakers Aamir Khan, Farhan Akhtar, Salman Khan and his father Salim Khan, actor Riteish Deshmukh, and lyricist Javed Akhtar were prominent among those present.
Salman Khan, had however, left early.
Aamir while speaking on the occasion was critical of the metro car shed proposed in city’s green belt Aarey Colony.
“If the natural aesthetics of Aarey is disturbed due to the DP, it is a cause of concern. The Aarey milk colony should not be disturbed. Government should involve citizens in the development plan and seek their views to plan the future of Mumbai. If this had been done before, there would have been no need to hold such meetings,” he said.
Architect and town planner P K Das demanded that the DP be scrapped, since it had lot of loopholes which cannot be rectified.
“There will be no traffic decongestion or no scope for affordable housing,” he said.
Among researchers working on biodiversity in Aarey area, photographer Nayan Khanolkar on the occasion said the DP has been prepared without having knowledge of Mumbai.
“Wrong reports were prepared that there is no wildlife in Aarey colony. The DP is just a business of FSI,” he charged.
Addressing the gathering, Thackrey said the meeting was non-political one and filmstars have come forward out of their concern for Mumbai city.
“Film industry bigwigs attended this meeting because of their love and concern for the city and are connected to social causes. Salman is involved in social work through his Being Human foundation while Aamir raises social issues through his TV programme.
“Javed Akhtar has given his MP fund of Rs 25 crore for cleaning of drains while Riteish Deshmukh was present as an architect and not as an actor,” he said.
The party chief said some people think he does everything for political reasons but for him Mumbai’s development issue was above politics.
Later, Riteish Deshmukh took to micro-blogging site Twitter to discuss the Development Plan-2034.
In a series of tweets, the actor said the development plan warrants discussion at a much larger scale and felt presentations should be made by the government to locals in each ward or area to make them aware of the changes that are to come.
“Greens of Aarey are the lungs of Mumbai – No aarey and this city will stop breathing,” he said in one of the tweets and also demanded a referendum on such issues as people should vote how they want their city to be.
Finally he signed off with “DP2034: is the Development Plan of Mumbai-which dictates growth of Mumbai till year 2034.My Q-Do you know what’s in store for u n ur city?,”he asked.
“I blame myself as a Mumbaikar for not taking interest in knowing about #DP2034 -that will in effect bring changes to our city- good or bad?” he tweeted.