MHADA’s new plans may be music to the ears of Mumbaikars desperate to acquire living space in prime pockets of SoBo such as Cuffe Parade, Colaba and Lalbaug. State housing minister Sachin Ahir announced at MHADA yesterday that plans are being made to demolish old transit camps in the city and build homes in their place, which will then be distributed to the common man via lottery.
There are 57 such sites with a total of 18,000 tenements, from which MHADA is expecting no less than 10,000 homes. These will be developed over the next five-six years.
Confirming the development, Mohan Thombre, CEO of the Repair and Reconstruction board, said, “There are many transit camps in the city, which are very old. We plan to demolish and redevelop them. This would give MHADA homes, which can be made available to the common man via lottery.”
Ahir, who was at MHADA to felicitate the new Repair and Reconstruction board chairman Prasad Lad, said, “We had earlier calculated the number of transit tenements and this project was in the pipeline. We hope that the new chairman would expedite the process and the homes would be ready over the next five-six years. We are expecting that at least 10,000 homes will be made available for the lottery.”
According to the last survey conducted by MHADA’s Repair and Reconstruction board, there are 490 tenements in the Cuffe Parade and Colaba areas. Other prime locations in the city where these camps exist include Bandra Reclamation, which has 400 tenements, Nirmal Nagar in Khar with 712, Peru Compound in Lalbaug with 126, and Jijamata Nagar in Kalachowkie with 122 tenements. The highest number of tenements is in Sion, at 5,842.
Most of these tenements are occupied by people who have lost their homes, which collapsed or became dangerous for habitation. There are more than 19,000 cessed buildings in South Mumbai (see box). Every year before the monsoon, the MHADA conducts surveys to identify dangerous buildings, which are then evacuated. The occupants of these buildings are given temporary accommodation at transit camps.
No easy task
A senior MHADA officer, said on condition of anonymity, “Redeveloping transit camps wouldn’t be an easy task. There are many illegal occupants who have stayed in these transit camps for decades. These people are politically connected and whenever we go to vacate them, pressure is applied from other places to stop it. Political will is needed for redevelopment of these places.”
Addressing this issue, Ahir said, “The government is serious about redevelopment and we know about the illegal occupants. We do need to seriously look into this matter and are hopeful that it will be resolved soon. At first, we need to define who fall into the bracket of illegal occupants, as there are many who have been sold the flats.”
So will these homes be cheaper than those available in the market? A senior officer from MHADA said, “Our main aim is to provide housing that is affordable to every common man. We don’t overcharge the buyer — we charge mostly the construction cost, and development cost of the area. This is why our homes are always sold at rates cheaper than the prevailing market rate.”
Unlike the current real estate market where builders sell buyers flats on super built-up area, the MHADA flats are sold purely on carpet area, lowering its total cost.
The number of tenements in the Cuffe Parade and Colaba areas
The number of cessed buildings in South Mumbai
The highest number of tenements is in Sion
At present, there are nearly 19,000 cessed buildings, and all of them are located in South Mumbai. Most of them are in the C ward of the city. They are called so because they pay a cess, or tax to MHADA for their repair and upkeep. As these buildings are old and leased out to tenants on low rent, they are dilapidated. So MHADA maintains these buildings.
The number of sites at which transit camps are located
The number of tenements in the camps, which will be demolished
The number of newly developed homes, which will be sold via lottery