Builders are given preference by the Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) bending all rules for the purpose of profits. But when it comes to community groups which are struggling for the rehabilitation of the people living in the dilapidated buildings, all kind of hurdles are created for the obvious reasons.
The ambitious Rs 1,500 crore proposal to redevelop thickly populated Muslim pockets of Bhendi Bazaar, in south Mumbai, through the State's Cluster Redevelopment policy has been rejected by the BMCs high-power committee.
Civic officials said these proposals had been rejected as the developers could not get the consent of 70 per cent of either the landlords or tenants.
Last July Islamic Voice reported on the project initiated by Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, the spiritual leader of the one million-strong Dawoodi Bohra community, under the aegis of the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust. Bhendi Bazaar stretches from the JJ flyover junction at Byculla to Minara Masjid on the south side.
The project aims to replace 281 old buildings—many in precarious state—with multi-storeyed structures in the next five years. Nearly 4,000 families, apart from nearly 2,000 shops and small offices occupy the buildings spread over 18 acres in the heart of south Mumbai.
Almost 80 per cent of the residents are Dawoodi Bohras, who live in 150 sq. ft. tenements. Each family will now get 350 sq. ft. free ownership flats. Existing religious structures will be retained and the township's centre-piece will be the Raudat Tahera, tomb of the previous Syedna, the present leader's father.
Executive secretary, Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust. Bhendi Bazaar, Abdeali Bhanpurawala said that the BMCs high-power committee has asked us to get consent of 70 per cent of tenants or owners, which we shall be submitting shortly.
Cluster Redevelo-pment under Section 33(9) of the Development Control Regulations is the latest attempt by the state to carry out a makeover of the island city that has over 16,000 old and dilapidated structures. The minimum land that a builder needs to acquire for cluster redevelopment is 4,000 sq. mt. or one acre. Once approved by the high-power committee, a proposal is forwarded to the urban development department, which scrutinizes it and forwards it to the CM for final approval. The proposal then returns to the BMC that grants a letter of intent.
The redevelopment of the Bhendi Bazar is crucial as the living conditions are pathetic. “Compared to Mazgaon and Marol, where other Dawoodi Bohras live, sanitation facilities in Bhendi Bazar are poor, roads narrow and parking facilities absent,” said Shaikh Abdeali Bhanpurawala.
The project has the backing of the community's supreme leader, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, who envisaged a green township. Qutub Mandviwala, principal architect of the firm planning the project, said that since it will be a residential township with over 25,000 people, it will not be possible to make it hundred per cent green. “Unlike an office block, things like water and power consumption cannot be controlled in a residential area,” said Mandviwala. “But we have an opportunity to create an environment-friendly model for redevelopment of South Mumbai.”
Nearly 80 per cent of the new residential and commercial units will be used to rehabilitate old occupants. The cost of the project will be financed by sale of the remaining units.
To overcome the resistance from the landlords the trust is also buying some old buildings from landlords. Also representatives of a marketing firm appointed by the trust have been going round the area with audio-visual presentations to convince residents about the benefits of joining the project. “Initial apprehensions about the project have now turned into enthusiasm”, he commented.
Even the non-Bohra Muslims have given their approval,” said Rajabali Calcuttawala of the firm, Indianet.
Businessman Nooruddin Sevwala, a resident of Tayebi Manzil that will be redeveloped, said that for families living in cramped tenements, the opportunity to live in a flat with a bedroom and attached toilet is a dream come true. “It is a great idea from our leader,” said Sevwala. Urban planners said that the success of the Bhendi Bazaar project would be worth monitoring. “It is a step in the right direction. If the project is accomplished, it can be replicated elsewhere in the cit.