135 acres NTC mill lands could open up for development
NTC has undertaken the redevelopment of the chawls as a first step, leading to anticipation that the remaining mill land will soon be sold in the open market.
Mumbai: Of the 25 textile mills owned by the National Textile Corporation (NTC), the land of around nine in South and Central Mumbai is expected to be released for redevelopment in the near future.
The nine mill lands measure approximately 150 acres, of which a very small portion—13.8 acres—is occupied by 11 chawls in which mill workers live. NTC has undertaken the redevelopment of the chawls as a first step, leading to anticipation that the remaining mill land will soon be sold in the open market.
When questioned about commercial exploitation earlier this month, Union textiles and commerce minister Piyush Goyal had said that the government only planned to redevelop the chawls for now. The central government has now appointed a consultant for this. It has also spoken about taking the state agencies on board for the redevelopment.
According to officials, NTC will open up the remaining 135 acres for residential and commercial exploitation after the chawl redevelopment is over. “Of the 25 NTC mills, eight have already been sold or disposed of while five mills are still running,” said an official from the state government. “NTC has entered into joint ventures for four of them. There could be plans for commercial exploitation of these mills lands but only after the rehabilitation of mill workers.”
An official from NTC cited the DCR notification of 2006 which mandates the rehabilitation of tenants before or along with the commercial exploitation of the remaining land. “In earlier cases like Elphinstone Mills, the staff quarters were developed along with the commercial residential development of the plot,” he said.
NTC sold some of its mills in the open market in 2005 and 2010. After the sale of the 7.5-acre Apollo Mills for ₹180 crore in 2005, two NTC mills (Podar Mills and Bharat Mills) measuring 10.5 acres in Worli fetched ₹2,000 crore. NTC officials said they could not expect a similar amount today because of market saturation but the land bank they possessed was still a gold mine.
Pankaj Kapoor, managing director of real estate research firm Liases Foras seemed to have a different opinion. “Land productivity in the market has increased at least fourfold from 2010 when NTC sold its two mills,” he said. “The FSI doled out for redevelopment has increased to 4 from 2.5 ten to twelve years ago. Some listed companies and funds are entering the market.” However, Kapoor believes NTC will go “step by step” in the disposal of its mill-occupied land, based on the response it gets for its chawl redevelopment plan.
After the rehabilitation of the existing occupants, the developer needs to share the remaining housing stock with Mhada and owner (in this case NTC) in the ratio of 1:0.6. The mill lands get a notional FSI of 4 to construct houses.
“This means the rehabilitation of 2062 occupants, including 172 commercial tenants, will be in situ. The residential occupants will get flats of 405 square feet carpet area. Of the nine mills, five are non-cessed buildings, whose responsibility of repairs and redevelopment is with the NTC. We are requesting the state government to convert those too into cessed structures to get the benefits of FSI and TDR, making the redevelopment feasible,” another official said.
Jam Mills in Lalbaug is one the nine NTC mills that houses chawls. The mill has 120 residential tenements and 26 shops in three chawls that are between 94 and 141 years old. The tenements range between 100 and 270 square feet carpet area and are in a dilapidated condition. “The rent NTC gets from the tenants ranges between ₹5 and ₹30 a month,” said a BMC official. “NTC gets ₹95,000 a year, against which it pays at least ₹10 lakh towards taxes to the local bodies.”
Mahesh Hendre, president of the Jam Mills Housing Society (proposed), said, “We have been fighting for redevelopment for years. It has now being pushed really fast by the central and state government agencies. We expect something really fruitful to happen in the next few weeks.”
Pravin Ghag, president of the Girni Kamgar Sangharsh Samiti said, “NTC and the state government should think of utilising part of the remaining land from these nine mills for the rehabilitation of mill workers from other mills too. The government has received 1.74 lakh applications from mill workers for the tenements, out of which only 24,000 tenements will be made available. We will soon meet chief minister Eknath Shinde with the demand.”