Though the state government mooted the cluster development scheme in 2009 for holistic development of congested and dilapidated areas of the city, none of the projects cleared under it have taken off since, primarily due to strict conditions which make them unviable for developers.
To give fillip to the scheme, the government has decided to give sops to the largest cluster project in the city — the redevelopment of 16-acre Bhendi Bazaar in south Mumbai, which has been undertaken by Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust (SBUT) on a no-profit, no-loss basis.
SBUT had recently petitioned the state government for certain concessions to make the project viable, and the state is set to agree to their demands, which include offering floor space index (FSI) of 4 for transit tenements against the earlier 1.33 to 2, reducing side margins from 4.5 meters to 1.5 meters, and handing over civic-owned properties within the cluster to the developer.
The redevelopment of Bhendi Bazaar, one of the most dense localities in the city, has been a nightmare for urban planners. The trust, run by the Bohra community, plans to rehabilitate 25,000 residents living in crammed chawls in 350-sq-feet tenements in high-rises, and revamp the entire area to include wider roads and open spaces.
“This is among the most viable cluster projects, but even then, there are scores of teething problems. Hence, the government will agree to their [SBUT] demands as most of them are practical,” said a senior government official.
The state’s urban development department has proposed that the transit tenements, to be created at Mazgaon by SBUT, be granted FSI of 4, and the structures be then transferred to the government to house mill workers and other residents. “After an asset is created, instead of demolishing it, the state can use it for various requirements,” added the official.
Officials said that reducing of side margins between two buildings will have to be done on a case-to-case basis to ensure fire safety norms are not jeopardised.
The transfer of BMC chawls dating back to the World War II era will also be given priority to get the project off the ground. The chawls will be transferred after SBUT pays 20% of the ready reckoner rates.
However, the state will not be able to sort out the main hurdle facing SBUT — consent. “We have the consent of 70% tenants but there are still 20 to 30% properties owned by private landlords who not willing to co-operate, and this could hijack the entire project,’’ said Abdeali Bhanpurawala, SBUT secretary.
Senior officials said that the government cannot force these landlords to toe the line and impinge on their rights.