The proposed redevelopment of the 92.86-acre BDD chawls, located in Worli, Lower Parel, Naigaum and Sewri, is hurtling towards trouble with several political parties and associations wanting a hand in the project.
While the location of the chawls, on prime real estate land in central Mumbai, makes it a financially attractive option for anybody associated with the revamp, majority of the approximately 16,500 residents living there are Maharashtrians and an important votebank.
The latest political party to jump into the fray is the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), which has demanded 450 to 500 sq feet flats for all the residents, who are residing in 180 sq feet rooms. The reason: Most of them are Maharashtrians so they should be given preferential treatment. “If illegal slumdwellers who come from outside the state can get 269 sq feet homes, our Marathi manoos, who has been paying taxes for decades, should get bigger houses,” said Bala Nandgaonkar, an MNS legislator.
The Akhil BDD Chawls Rahiwashi Mahasangh, comprising members of BDD chawls, wants the revamp to be undertaken through the group. “We should be given the right to choose the builder as we reside here,” said Raju Waghmare, president of the resident organisation, who has demanded 550 sq feet 2BHK flats for all residents.
Another resident group, the Akhil BDD Chawls Bhadekaru Mahasangh, has claimed the first right for redevelopment on the grounds that it already has the consent of 87 per cent of the residents. “We want to redevelop it ourselves and many financial organisations are ready to support us,” said Dr Ajay Nakashe, president of Mahasangh.
The association has submitted plans to construct 24-storey buildings, with each resident getting a 400 sq feet flat and free parking. “This project will go nowhere if people are just misled by bigger area.
The state cannot afford to increase the house size as it will then have to do it for all chawl rehabilitation projects and the Dharavi revamp,” said a Mhada official. The British built the 207 BDD chawls between 1921 and 1925 for working class people. After Independence, the state’s public works department took over them. Currently, each household pays a rent of not more than Rs 100 a month.
Sachin Ahir, state minister for housing, said, “We will ensure that people get good houses and that no injustice is done to anyone.”