Starved for space | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Starved for space

What if you had to live with the feeling that you get when you travel in a packed local train? The eight-member Kanse family living in a 180-sq-ft room in Bombay Development Directorate (BDD) chawl, Naigaon, knows the feeling, report Sujit Mahamulkar & Bhavika Jain.

mumbai Updated: Oct 05, 2009 17:05 IST

What if you had to live with the feeling that you get when you travel in a packed local train?

The eight-member Kanse family living in a 180-sq-ft room in Bombay Development Directorate (BDD) chawl, Naigaon, knows the feeling.

One unexpected guest and Vijay Kanse (29) and his brother Jaywant (32) have to sleep in the ground floor verandah to accommodate the guest.

“I have lived here since I was born,” said Jaywant. “My brother and I would have to go out to the nearest ground to study when there were guests at home.”

This family is one of the 3,500 families living in crammed spaces in more than 40 BDD chawls, in the Wadala constituency.

The buildings are in a dilapidated state with poor sanitation and garbage disposal.

The British built the BDD chawls in the early 1920s as temporary prisons for freedom fighters. There are over 20 such decrepit chawls pockets on government land in Worli, Naigaon, Lower Parel and Sewri and over 10,000 families live in them.

Each three-storied building houses 80 rooms of 180 sq ft each with common toilets.

The only ray of hope for families living here is the cluster redevelopment proposal mooted several years ago and now lying with the cabinet for final approval.

Under this proposal each family living in a BDD chawl will be housed in new self-contained, 300-sq-ft flats.

“We were told that our building would be redeveloped but for 15 years nothing has changed,” said Shankar Kanse (57), head of the Kanse family, which has been living in the chawl since 1953. “The state government should redevelop it soon so that the next generation can live in better conditions. The present conditions are like those in slums.”

The state housing department has proposed that the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) will prepare the masterplan for the redevelopment of BDD chawls.

“The Cabinet is yet to approve the project,” said Digambar Kandarkar (53), Shiv Sena candidate from the constituency.

While the constituency has space-starved families like the Kanses it is also home to people like Hussein Shah (48) a businessman who lives with a family of three in a 1,000-sq-ft house in Hindu Colony, Dadar.

Shah’s problem is that of lack of parking space for his Toyota Corolla. “I have to park my car on the roadside,” said Shah. “For an area like Dadar that is bustling with traffic all day a parking lot is a must.”

Kalidas Kolambkar (56) sitting Congress Member of Legislative Assembly agreed that there were parking problems in Matunga and Dadar. “I will be taking the issue on priority basis,” he said.