In an attempt to expedite infrastructure projects in the city, the civic body is planning to change its policy on rehabilitating commercial units affected by these projects. Instead of offering alternative accommodation, the civic body plans to compensate project-affected people (PAPs) monetarily.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) says delays in rehabilitating shopkeepers and other commercial units have held up important projects, especially the widening of roads.
Instead of providing alternative accommodation to commercial project-affected people (PAPs) in the form of another commercial outlet, the civic body has now proposed that these be compensated with cash as a greater incentive to move out.
The BMC will now calculate the cost of the commercial structure as per the ready reckoner rates and give the PAPs a proportionate sum of money.
“A major hurdle in infrastructure projects, especially the widening of roads, is the relief and rehabilitation of commercial PAPs,” additional municipal commissioner Aseem Gupta said. “Hence, we are considering a policy that will ensure that PAPs are financially compensated handsomely. This will ensure that development works are not delayed due to failed rehabilitation efforts.”
Critical road widening projects, and the Mithi River and Brihanmumbai Storm Water Drain (BRIMSTOWAD) projects have been delayed because of resistance to rehabilitation from commercial PAPs.
The widening of two major arterial roads, Swami Vivekanand (SV) Road in the western suburbs and the Lal Bahadur Shastri (LBS) Marg in the eastern suburbs has been stuck for more than 10 years because of failed relief and rehabilitation attempts.
A senior official from the roads department said 90% of the PAPs in road widening projects are commercial outlet owners.
“Most of the times, the alternative accommodation that we offer PAPs is far from their existing location,” a senior civic official said, requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to media. “Also, most are not enticing enough as business opportunities for them.”
Activists are opposed to this idea. Simpreet Singh from Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan said offering monetary compensation leads to malpractices. “Also, despite the cash compensation, there is still no guarantee that the shopkeeper will be able to have the same kind of business elsewhere,” he said.
The BMC, however, believes this is the best solution although means extra costs.