Govt is serious about preventing tragedies like Kalbadevi fire: Housing Minister

Housing Minister Prakash Mehta tells mid-day that while cluster redevelopment does not seem possible for Kalbadevi and its surrounding areas, the govt will take measures to encourage regular redevelopment, including hiking the FSI if needed

While cluster redevelopment for areas like Kalbadevi, Chira Bazaar, Opera House and Bhuleshwar will remain a pipe dream, residents have some reason for cheer, with the housing minister telling mid-day that the government is serious about the areas’ redevelopment.

Housing Minister Prakash Mehta
TOP-DOWN: Mehta said CM Devendra Fadnavis is also serious about the issue

In a front-page report yesterday, mid-day had highlighted how tragedies like Saturday’s fire in Gokul Niwas will always be just around the corner for Kalbadevi and its surrounding areas until the government and various agencies take urgent action to eradicate the slum-like conditions prevailing there.

Various experts had suggested that cluster redevelopment could be the answer to the areas’ woes but Housing Minister Prakash Mehta told mid-day yesterday that it is difficult to get tenants and landlords of various buildings to agree for it. He has, however, said that the buildings should undergo regular redevelopment and that, if needed, the government can look at hiking the FSI for such areas and take other decisions to facilitate such redevelopment to prevent such tragedies from taking place. Mehta said that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is also serious about the issue and that redevelopment is the only way out.

midday report
mid-day’s report yesterday

Even the draft housing policy suggests redevelopment under Rule 33 (7) (regular redevelopment) for cessed buildings.
“When I think from the perspective of the tenants and landlords of these areas, it is clear that they are not going to go in for cluster redevelopment. If needed, we will hike the FSI, but we cannot let people die in building collapses. We are also going to ensure that the moment a building is declared dangerous, the residents will be vacated and rehabilitated and they will not have to stay in dangerous buildings,” said Mehta.

According to the draft housing policy, MHADA has issued no-objection certificates for redevelopment of more than 1,700 cessed buildings across Mumbai, but redevelopment of only 600 such buildings has been completed so far.

The policy states, “The delay in implementation of the redevelopment schemes under Development Control Regulation 33 (7) is therefore a matter of concern. To expedite the redevelopment of cessed and dangerous buildings, the present policy of redevelopment of cessed buildings under DCR 33 (7) will be revised.”

The revision includes giving the landlord or developer having development rights of cessed buildings a Letter Of Intent (LOI) on making an application for redevelopment to enable them to obtain Intimation of Disapproval (IOD) and other approvals from MCGM (these approvals are necessary for redevelopment). If the developer does not start the development within 3 years of obtaining the NOC from MHADA, the housing authority will cancel the NOC and start the process for acquiring the land under the MHADA Act.

It will then take up redevelopment on its own to protect the tenants of the cessed buildings. The redevelopment of cessed structures in the heritage Grade II and Grade III category will also be allowed to allow these cessed buildings to be redeveloped.

The process of obtaining NOC from the Mumbai Heritage Construction Committee will be streamlined such that the NOC will be deemed to have been granted after 60 days of application if not granted within the period.

According to the policy, the necessary amendments in the Rule 33 (7) of the DCR will be made within 3 months of the policy coming into effect.

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