MUMBAI: South Mumbai is getting a face lift. The Mumbai civic corporation has cleared the decks for two major cluster redevelopment projects on about 46 acres of prime land in the island city.
A high-powered committee for urban renewal scheme headed by BMC chief Subodh Kumar, on April 11, approved the 16.5-acre Bhendi Bazaar redevelopment scheme initiated by the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Project and the 30-acre Chira Bazaar scheme to be executed by Unity Realty and Remaking Of Mumbai Housing Infrastructure and Finance Ltd (Lok Group).
The promoters have been asked to carry out some minor modifications in their plans before the state government gives its final nod and issues letters of intent. These might be among the biggest cluster redevelopment projects in the country.
Together, the projects will entail the rehabilitation of over 65,000 people, most of whom currently live in old and dilapidated buildings. The residents will be rehoused free of cost in spanking new apartments that Mumbai’s cluster redevelopment policy stipulates must range between 300 sq ft and 750 sq ft.
A portion of the plots at Bhendi Bazaar and Chira Bazaar which are up for redevelopment will be exploited by developers to construct towers and sell them at market rate to recover their cost and make profits.
The Bhendi Bazaar redevelopment proposal, has been spearheaded by the spiritual head of the one million-strong Dawoodi Bohra community, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin. His son, Shahzada Dr Qaidjoher Bhaisaheb Ezzuddin, has stationed himself in the heart of Bhendi Bazaar to monitor the progress of the project on a daily basis.
“It’s a Rs3,000-crore philanthropic project, which will be funded entirely by the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust on a no-profit, no-loss basis,” said trust secretary Abdeali Bhanpurawala. The project’s chief liaison person, Murtuza Ali Rajkotwala, said the trust has purchased a two-acre plot in Mazgaon, where 1,500 families will be temporarily accommodated in three transit buildings. Several Bohra families have already moved to these buildings. “We provide them three meals a day free of cost for the first one month,” said Rajkotwala.
The trust has acquired 179 of the 250 buildings in Bhendi Bazaar and so far paid Rs56-crore to the landlords. “The Syedna has asked to provide each family a minimum of 350 sq ft in the new construction, although the government policy stipulates only 300 sq ft,” said Bhanpurawala.
Kumar said two ancient mosques in Bhendi Bazaar’s Mutton Street will not be shifted, but roads in the vicinity will have to be widened. He said a school situated between the two mosques would be rebuilt on stilts to allow for a car park and a subway that will take children safely to a nearby playground. Another 60,000 sq m underground public car park will be built to accommodate 1,400 vehicles, Kumar added.
“The trust plans to construct just four towers in the free sale component. Seventy per cent of the land will be used to rehabilitate the existing tenants,” said project architect Shaikh Samoon F Rassiwala.
In south Mumbai, the Rs3,000-crore Chira Bazaar project envisages the redevelopment of 362 buildings and rehousing of over 40,000 people currently living in more than 8,000 tenements.
“The 30 acre sprawl at present comprises 47 per cent residential and 53 per cent commercial structures,” said Kishore Avarsekar, chairman of Unity Infraprojects. Five acres will be taken up in the first phase and the entire project is scheduled to be completed in five to seven years.
Chira Bazaar houses many heritage religious structures, including Jain temples, mosques and Parsi fire temples. “If the cluster redevelopment is not done in a planned way, it will end up hurting the sentiments of religious communities,” warned a Girgaum resident.
The municipal commissioner assured that none of the temples or heritage structures in the area—which is enclosed by Babasaheb Jaykar Marg, Dr M B Velkar Street, Kalbadevi Road and JSS Marg—will be touched or relocated. Also, Kalbadevi and Jagannath Sankersett roads will be widened to 90 ft from the existing 60 ft, he said.
The developer said the project will upgrade and augment the buildings’ infrastructure and restore heritage structures free of cost. “The area will have wide roads, adequate parking areas… and proper market places,” said Avarsekar.