The state government has shot down Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority's (Mhada) proposal to redevelop the century-old BDD chawls and asserted that the private builders would undertake the scheme.
Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said Mhada, the housing body, lacked the expertise to handle the revamp of the 92.86-acre Bombay Development Department (BDD) chawls spread across the city. “Mhada does not have the capacity to undertake the project as it has limitations,” said Chavan.
Stating the benefit of having private developers, Chavan said: “We will get free houses, get money and do not have to spend anything,” said Chavan. He also justified private parties making money on such deals. “If they invest money, they are bound to make profits,” said Chavan.
The 207 chawls are in prime locations of Worli, Lower Parel, Naiguam and Sewri. State Opposition leader Eknath Khadse termed it the nexus of the state with private builders. “If Mhada is incapable, then the state should dissolve it instantly,” said Khadse. “The state has malafide intention in gifting the land to the private parties.”
Since Mhada has a land bank of only five acres in the city, it has been exploring various ways to create low cost houses. In the current project, it had undertaken to revamp the chawls and create a substantial stock of thousands of low-cost houses.
Housing activists have called it a sell-out. “Private builders only construct luxury houses which is not beyond the reach of the majority of the people,” said Shreedhar Sharma, president of Revathy Foundation.
“In recent times, Mhada has come up with good quality houses which is evident from lakhs of applicants,” he added.