Giving a push to the much-delayed redevelopment of the century-old BDD chawls six months before Mumbai goes to polls, the BJP-led Maharashtra government has framed fresh regulation for the project, which promises to create 61.63 lakh square feet of additional housing stock in the island city for affordable housing.
The state government has proposed to offer free houses of 500 sqft each to all tenants of BDD chawls as part of the redevelopment scheme, which would be the city’s second-largest after the stalled Dharavi revamp. The plan to offer 500-sqft houses for free to the residents would be the state’s highest-ever compensation to be given in any redevelopment project in the city.
“The project is proposed to be implemented on the lines of the cluster redevelopment scheme for the legal tenants of all BDD chawls. The slums on the BDD chawl property would be redeveloped according to the provisions of the city’s slum redevelopment scheme,” said an official from the state urban development department.
The project will be given a floor space index (FSI) of 4 or an additional construction area of 55% of the area required to rehabilitate the existing tenants, whichever is more. This is in line with the city’s cluster redevelopment scheme. FSI refers to the ratio of the permissible built-up area to the plot area.
Mhada is the planning and implementing authority for the project. Assuming a rehab component of 61.63 lakh square feet with 500-square-feet houses to be given to 12,327 residents, MHADA expects the same amount of construction area as the minimum available for the sale component.
According to a 2009 report by the Mumbai Transformation Support Unit, a state government think tank, the redevelopment of BDD chawls using the cluster redevelopment modal can yield at least 12,000 housing units.
According to the cluster redevelopment scheme, tenants are usually eligible for free houses of 400 sqft. However, there had been a rising clamour from BDD chawl residents -- 12,327 currently living in 160-sqft cramped tenements -- demanding bigger houses.
The British had developed the Bombay Development Directorate chawls, popularly known as the BDD chawls, in the 1920s as a low-cost housing solution for the city. There are 207 chawls spread across about 37 hectares in four areas -- Worli, Sewri, NM Joshi Marg and Naigaon.
An official from the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA), said, “We expect to get additional area for construction of a new housing stock in a 1:1 ratio. It will be difficult to quote the exact number of houses for sale the project will yield. But, we will mostly use 40% of the additional area to build houses for lower-income groups, and the rest 30% each for the middle-income groups and higher-income groups.”
Besides legal tenants, there are also 402 commercial tenements in the chawl, which as part of the redevelopment scheme, will be given only as much area as they currently occupy, and 478 more families living in slums that have mushroomed on the property over the years.
A senior official from the state housing department said, “We will give one month for people to record their suggestions and objections once the draft regulation is published, after which the state urban development department will come out with the final regulation. Meanwhile, Mhada will start working on a detailed plan based on the draft rules. We have already finalised architects for two of the chawls, while appointment of the rest is under the works.”
The redevelopment of the decrepit chawls had been on the government’s cards for nearly a decade. However, policy flip flops between roping in private builders versus revamping the chawls on an engineering procurement contract through the government, and residents’ demands for large houses led to inordinate delays.