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HindustanTimes Wed,22 Oct 2014

No happy ending to cluster story yet

Naresh Kamath, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, March 06, 2013
First Published: 01:29 IST(6/3/2013) | Last Updated: 01:31 IST(6/3/2013)

The cluster redevelopment scheme, which aims for holistic development of an area, could have changed the lives of 15,466 families living in old flats in Abhyudaya Nagar (Kala Chowky), Chira Bazaar and Motilal Nagar (Goregaon), but the three big projects were scrapped after years of planning.

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Though the projects were shelved for a variety of reasons, the common grouse is that the procedures involved in a cluster scheme wastes a lot of time.

Had they taken off, these projects could have made optimum use of 189 acres of land in the city and created thousands of affordable Mhada homes.

Take the case of Chira Bazaar, where the Remaking of Mumbai Federation (ROMF) secured the rights to redevelop the 30 acres. Though the high-powered committee approved the plan, the government’s urban development department (UDD) rejected it on the basis that people’s consent was not taken in the required format.

“There were no such consent rules when we first got the nod from tenants. The high-powered committee understood this and issued a conditional Letter of Intent, but the UDD did not agree. After that, we abandoned the project,” said Mayank Gandhi, former secretary of ROMF.

Another reason the project was shelved was that the key person behind ROMF, Lalit Gandhi of Lok Group, passed away, which left the project on shaky ground.

Similarly, Pranav Merchant, vice-president, Shreepati Group, said the group wasted time and effort on the 32-acre Abhyudaya Nagar redevelopment project.

“We were shortlisted to the last three by the societies’ federation, but now they say they want to start afresh,” he said. The group is now approaching individual buildings in the colony.

Much in the same manner, the Mhada sat on the Housing Development and Infrastructure Limited’s (HDIL) Motilal Nagar proposal for two years before rejecting it. Now, Mhada wants to redevelop its colony on its own.

Developers are also at fault, say residents. “There was no transparency in the Chira Bazaar project. People were kept in the dark. That’s not the way to function,” said Congress legislator Amin Patel who had objected to the project.

Ketan Chavan, secretary of Abhyudaya Nagar Federation, said the decision to start afresh was taken last year as two years after the project was passed, no work was initiated.

“We wanted to educate the residents and solicit their views,” he said. Paras Gundecha, president of Maharashtra Chambers of Housing Industry, the biggest issue with the scheme is the delays.

“It is a herculean task to gather consents, and people get restless if there is delay. The builder bears the brunt of it,” he said.


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