BAI: In a controversial move, state housing authority Mhada wants to declare its prime 44-acre Bharat Nagar sprawl, comprising chawls, tenements and transit camps adjoining Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC), a slum.
This will effectively deprive Mhada of all benefits during redevelopment, including receiving a few thousand new flats that it could have sold at affordable rates. The authority took this stance after Omkar Realtors, one of Mumbai's biggest slum redevelopers, wrote to Mhada last year stating that 50,000 sq m land covering 12 proposed societies be redeveloped under the slum rehab scheme.
Sources said if redevelopment is allowed under the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA), private builders will walk away with the entire development rights worth thousands of crores instead of Mhada.
Under development control rule 33 (5), which governs redevelopment of Mhada properties, a builder has to hand over to the housing authority a portion of apartments free of cost for public housing. These flats are then sold by Mhada at affordable rates mainly to economically weaker sections and low and middle-income families. Insiders said redevelopment of the entire Bharat Nagar layout under 33 (5) could have fetched Mhada at least 5,000 tenements for sale.
Recently, eyebrows were raised when Mhada revoked permission granted to its tenants occupying plot 11 in Bharat Nagar to undertake self-redevelopment on their one acre plot. In 2014, the housing authority had even issued a draft lease agreement to the Bharat Nagar Paradise Co-operative Housing Society. "Suddenly, last week we received a letter, stating that the draft lease issued to our society is cancelled," said local corporator Ilyas Shaikh.
Mhada informed residents they have been declared as "slum dwellers" and their redevelopment would be under the slum scheme. The housing authority justified cancelling the draft lease, referring to a Bombay High Court order.
In the late 1990s, four of the 26 Bharat Nagar plots were redeveloped under the SRA. The court had allowed these four plots (numbers 7, 8, 9 and 12) to be redeveloped under SRA because they were declared as a "censused slum", while dismissing a petition filed by some residents. The 2010 order said only four of the 1,000-odd people had moved court.
However, Ebrahim Gani, chairman of Bharat Nagar Paradise Society (plot 11) said Mhada was using a high court judgment which does not apply to them and the remaining plots in the entire layout. "We wanted to redevelop our tenements along with Mhada and do not want a builder to enter here," he said.
"The high court order referred in the matter pertains to different pieces of land with different backgrounds of development. This is not applicable to lands on which we have been staying. Mhada's decision to enter into a lease agreement with us was taken three years after the high court order," he added.
Last June, Omkar Realtors wrote to Mhada CEO S S Zende, stating its intention to take up an integrated slum redevelopment scheme here. The developer said all open spaces, pathways, building spaces and amenity plots have been encroached upon over the years. "The area has virtually become a slum with unsafe structures, narrow lanes, poor sanitation, overcrowding, leading to conditions unsuitable for human habitation. Occupants also possess photo passes of slum dwellers," it said.
But corporator Shaikh said under the slum scheme, each family will receive only a 269 sq ft tenement. "If the redevelopment is done under the Mhada 33 (5) scheme, a family will get 437.5 sq ft house," he said.
Shaikh, a resident of plot 11, said a majority of the 160 tenants here voted for self-redevelopment. "Now, how do we tell them that a builder will take over the project," he added.
Of the 44 acres in Bharat Nagar, nine acres comprise Mhada chawls, six acres contain Mhada transit camps and a 4.5-acre plot called Tata Colony has been vacated by a builder to redevelop it under section 33 (5).
Credit : http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/