For a city starved of land, the 133 Bombay Improvement Trust (BIT) chawls — located in prime areas such as Mumbai Central, Agripada, Sion, Parel and Mazgaon —provide another opportunity for affordable housing.
But here, too, the proposed makeover is mired in controversy.
There is intense competition among builders for a piece of the redevelopment pie, with many of them indulging in unethical practices. Fed up, many buildings have banned their entry.
Santosh Daundkar, secretary, Belasis Road BIT Chawl Seva Sangh, said builders have poisoned the atmosphere in the chawls. “They lure residents with false promises and patronise anti-social elements to bag chawls’ development rights,” said Daundkar.
In June this year, Dinesh Jain, a builder, was arrested for illegally securing the development consent of six policemen and 150 civic staff who were staying temporarily in the chawls.
The Sangh now plans to undertake the redevelopment of its 19 buildings occupying 8.5 acres itself. Each of the 1,524 tenants would get a 550-sq-ft apartment. “We will also generate a substantial stock of affordable houses for the public,” said Daundkar.
The 133 chawls are on prime locations in the island city. Though they have attracted builders in droves, barely a dozen chawls have been taken up for redevelopment. Owned by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), these pre-Independence era chawls have outlived their utility.
For any chawl to be redeveloped, the builder must get the consent of 70 per cent of its residents.
“There are too many vested interests involved. Even BMC permissions are not forthcoming,” said Sunil Mane, MD of Vignahartha Developers, which took five years to start the redevelopment of BIT Chawls 5 and 7 at Agripada.
Chief Minister Ashok Chavan had in July asked Municipal Commissioner Swadheen Kshatriya to figure out how to speed up the revamp.
Kshatriya said he prefers the cluster development model. This involves the makeover of an entire locality in a planned manner with residents getting new houses and the developer allowed to sell a certain number of apartments commercially. “This will ensure spacious houses for residents as well as systematic planning,” said Kshatriya.
Real estate consultants said the state should make it mandatory for builders to provide affordable houses. “The affordable housing should be handed over to MHADA to sell,” said Pankaj Kapoor, chairman of Liasas Foras, a real estate research firm.