The Cluster Redevelopment scheme — one of the most ambitious programmes designed to create a planned township in the city — has been caught in red-tape.
Although the High Powered Committee (HPC), headed by the municipal commissioner, specially constituted to clear the cluster development proposals have given a green signal to 21 cluster projects, only two have seen the light of the day.
The reason behind the delay is the Urban Development (UD) department, headed by Chief Minister Ashok Chavan that has refused to clear the projects despite the go-ahead by the HPC.
Rajendra Chaturvedi, partner, Shreepati Group said: "What is the need for the state's approval when it is cleared by the HPC, which is also a technical committee and has studied the projects."
Shreepati has sought permissions to redevelop five clusters in Parel, Girguam and Mazgaon. The group has plans to revamp about 30 acres of land and offer new houses to about 10,000 existing tenants. The project has been pending approval from the UD since five months.
Another developer, said B R Bhattad, owner of the Bhattad Group said: "The initial idea of clusters was to facilitate development on a faster scale but these delays are defeating the purpose." The group has put forth a proposal for four clusters at Thakurdwar and Bhuleshwar. The state has defended its stance saying that it does not want to rush through the projects and wants to ensure that it does not compromise with existing regulations. "Our aim is to develop a good neighbourhood and ensure that the offset infrastructure is not disturbed," said P C Benjamin, Principal Secretary, UD Department. He said that his department has received just 12 proposals, of which five have been cleared.
A developer, who did not wish to be named, said that the UD department is delaying for ulterior motives. "We are told to make changes in plans frequently and harassed unnecessary," said the developer. He alleged that the delays are deliberate to extort money.
Introduction of the cluster scheme was aimed at encouraging cohesive planning where all structures in the minimum area of one acre could be redeveloped, leaving bigger open spaces, unlike the fractured redevelopment schemes.
"We can be innovative in clusters as we can have sewage and water recycling plans which are not possible in small individual buildings," said Kailash Agarwal, Chairman, Nish Builders, which has received a green signal from the state to redevelop 6.5 acre of land at Lalbaug.