The recent building collapses in Dahisar and Mumbra underscores the flaws in the redevelopment scheme, which is meant to rid the city of dilapidated structures and give citizens newer and safer homes.
Both developers and citizens blame bureaucratic red tapism and the state government for the state of affairs, though there is no denying that builders and residents also contribute in the delay of redevelopment projects.
Take the case of Merchant House at Mumbra, which was declared unsafe and demolished two years ago. Those who lived in this building have not yet been provided any alternative accommodation, though they were promised it.
Fardia Banu, who lived there, said: “Hundreds of us were asked to vacate, but none of us have been rehabilitated. Authorities promised us new premises, but nothing was done.”
A building in Byculla is in a dismal condition and residents need to vacate it, but they fear to do so.
“We have never seen people coming back from transit camps. We will lose our home if we shift out,” said Altaf Khan, a resident.
“Our livelihood is based here.”
Such buildings are old, located on small plots, which don’t attract builders, and bad relations between landlords and tenants means nobody maintains it nor can they see eye to eye to redevelop it.
Builders blame the government.
“Many buildings are on small plots and redevelopment projects are not feasible for us. We need incentives to redevelop such structures,” said Paras Gundecha, former president, Maharashtra Chambers of Housing Industry.
According to Gundecha, if a structure is declared dangerous, the need for consent to redevelop it should be waived. “The approval process should be fasttracked,” he said.
Many residents have moved to Mhada transit camps hoping to return to their new homes soon and have been let down. Sometimes a structure could not be redeveloped because of a road widening project or as it was reserved as a playground or was stuck in litigation.
The government admits there was a problem, but assures residents that they would rehabilitate them.
“I agree that there was a problem for years, but we are now working to ensure that the redevelopment scheme gets priority,” said Prasad Lad, chairman, Mhada (Mumbai repairs board).
If redevelopment can’t be carried out, Mhada will either repair the structure or give residents the choice of a new apartment in the vicinity, he added.