The main grouse against the state government’s cluster redevelopment policy in its current form is that it gives away large parcels of government land to developers for commercial exploitation.
While the developer pays a premium for including dilapidated buildings in the cluster in addition to redeveloping them, this premium is nowhere near the market value of the land.
The state government plans to review this policy although there is no official stay on the policy so far.
The other complaint has been that the size of the cluster is often too small to allow any real upgrading of infrastructure such as roads, water supply or sewerage and hence it favours builders more than landlords or tenants.
“The current cluster development policy had faced criticism from urban planners as one that favoured builders,” said a bureaucrat, requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Even the Mumbai Transformation Support Unit, a think tank for the Mumbai makeover that initially promoted the cluster redevelopment concept, was unhappy with the policy because it recommended a much smaller size for redevelopment – one acre – instead of the proposed 10 hectares.
On the other hand, developers are also having a hard time implementing these projects because getting the consent of 70% of the residents is a difficult task. It also requires substantial initial investment.
Cluster redevelopment projects cleared so far include Shreepati Group’s project at Lower Parel spread across 17,000 sqm, DB Realty’s project at Mahalaxmi and Nish Developer’s project at Lower Parel.
The developers will demolish the chawls and slums to rehabilitate residents in high rises. In exchange, they have proposed commercial and residential towers.
The government may now prefer to prepare a masterplan for an area and go in for redevelopment by sub-contracting the work as a pilot instead of clearing more projects.
When speaking about the redevelopment policies in Mumbai, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Tuesday had said: “Often, when policies are formulated there is not enough application of the mind.”
He said the system of bartering floor space index — the ratio of the built up area to the total area of the plot — for homes for rehabilitating tenants of old buildings has not been completely transparent or successful in creating affordable homes.