Mumbai: It seems that most of the government’s plans for renovation and re-construction are being greeted with public disapproval these days. In recent times projects like the widening of Hill Road and land acquisitions have provoked protests, and now the proposed make-over of the Gateway of India has given rise to the local residents’ ire.

The RTI Act came through for the common man once again, and despite the reluctance of the BMC to part with the plan details, a group of Colaba residents managed to get a copy, drawn up by the Indian National Trust for Art and Heritage (Intach) and approved of by a special task force of the state government. They were disconcerted to see that the two parking lots available to the tourists and locals - one near the monument and the other between the monument and the Royal Bombay Yacht Club - are apparently nowhere on the planners’ mind.

From a broader perspective, noted RTI activist Shailesh Gandhi said that the Gateway project is merely one fragment of the mess in the city.

Common property and common interest is never looked into,” he said. “The public is never considered. Is the government looking at what is good for us? Have they ever asked us what we want? We talk of isolated events, but each city grows according to a development plan. If the government talks about shifting TDR from here to there or constructing buildings, they are following a planned structure. Mumbai does not have a structure! And the RTI can change that. It is because of the RTI Act that the citizens could get to the plan. Citizens will keep digging away, stripping away and if used across the country, no one will dare to keep public plans from the public in the first place - transparency will come about and public opinion will really matter.”

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