The Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority’s decision to redevelop the spacious Kannamwar Nagar and Tagore Nagar colonies in Vikhroli will not just ensure bigger houses for the existing tenants but also throw open a substantial stock of low-cost housing for the public.
Mhada is left with only five acres of land in its kitty and that has become an obstacle in creating affordable housing. The housing body has been looking at redevelopment of its colonies as the best option to create housing stock because the state government has set a target of creating at least 1 lakh low-cost houses in Mumbai within the next five years. There are 265 buildings at Kannamwar Nagar with 10,316 tenements while at Tagore Nagar there are 5,470 houses in 65 buildings. Both are well known Mhada townships and developers have been eying them because they are spread over huge tracts of land.
During his tenure as mayor Datta Dalvi, who lives in Kannamwar Nagar, wrote to all the residents of the colony on his official letterhead in October 2006 announcing a meeting to discuss a redevelopment proposal from a prominent builder. Residents, however, opposed it and raised questions about Dalvi’s interests in the project.
Mhada’s decision to revamp the colonies, however, seems to have been taken positively. Local Maharashtra Navnirman Sena legislator Mangesh Sangle welcomed the idea but with certain conditions. “We want bigger houses with good quality construction,” Sangle said. “The housing board should give us excellent amenities and also a handsome corpus fund to ensure we are not burdened by taxes after moving to newer homes.”
Some Mhada officials, without the board’s knowledge, were planning to apply the slum rehabilitation rule of Section 3K to these colonies. Under this, the state government can appoint a developer without the consent of the residents to facilitate holistic planning of the area. This will not happen now because Mhada will undertake the redevelopment on its own.
The housing body has decided to pull up these officers. “We have demanded strict punitive action against officers, who treat Mhada colonies as slums,” said Allwyn Das a senior member of the Mhada’s Mumbai Board.