A cautious sigh of relief has gone up from Kandivli and Malad. Defence minister Manohar Parrikar has clarified that the local military authority (LMA) will have to respond within 30 days to applications for no-objection certificates (NOC) for redevelopment and construction of buildings in the shadow of a defence establishment, failing which the state government and the municipal corporation can take a call on them.
A dilapidated building in Malad East whose redevelopment has been in limbo because of its proximity to the Central Ordnance Depot in Kandivli and Malad.
The move has evoked a mixed bag of reaction from thousands of residents of buildings within the 500-m radius of the Central Ordnance Depot, a defence establishment spanning across 17 acres of Kandivli and Malad. While some are hopeful that their buildings slated for redevelopment or new housing projects can finally take off, others are sceptical of the feasibility of the plan.
Two notifications — issued by a cautious government in 2010 in the wake of the Adarsh scam and by the ministry of defence (MoD) in 2011 — had scuttled all redevelopment projects in the highly congested areas of Kandivli and Malad. They made permission from the LMA mandatory for any construction activity within the 500-m radius of the COD.
Uday Doshi was forced to move out of his home in Kandivli and stay in a rented flat two years ago. Pics/Prabhanjan Dhanu
Builders said some 700 buildings slated for an overhaul were affected by these notifications and thousands of residents who had moved out of their homes during this period have not been able to return. The affected residents have formed a group — COD Sufferers — to voice their hopelessness.
To find a solution to this logjam, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis wrote a letter to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar last year, asking for removal of the 2011 notification. Parrikar responded to it in the first week of April this year, clarifying that if the LMA of a defence establishment doesn’t respond to an NOC in 30 days with adverse comments, it would be assumed that he has no objection to the project. Even in case of an adverse comment, the final call on giving the green light would rest with the state government and the municipal corporation.
Parrikar’s response has raised the hopes of Uday Doshi, a resident of Kandivli, who has been staying in a rented house for the last two years since his dilapidated building was picked up for redevelopment. “We have to pay a rent of R20,000 for this house since the flat I stayed in is now in a bad shape. The builders paid the rent for a year. With this clarification, we are hopeful that we would get our homes back and redevelopment will take place soon,” he said.
Upendra Oza, a resident of Malad who, too, stays in a rented flat, said his building was demolished four years ago, but its reconstruction plan is nowhere in sight. “I’m hoping that I’ll get my home in at least a year.”
FS Chauhan, secretary of a housing society in Malad East, said many people are forced to continue to stay in dilapidated buildings because no builder wants to touch them. “The buildings’ overhaul is stuck because of their proximity to the COD. Builders do not want to invest in these projects. If the government can help us out, then the whole area can be redeveloped.”
Realtors, however, are taking the new development with a pinch of salt. Vishal Hirani of Landmark Corporation, a real estate construction firm that is undertaking several projects in Kandivli and Malad, said his projects have been in limbo for the last four years. “I have constructed g+3 structures, but beyond that, I have no permission. The tenants have been living elsewhere; there has been no forward movement.”
He wants the MoD’s change in guidelines to be reflected on ground. “They should be implemented. Else, everything looks good on paper. The LMA should reply to us within 30 days, and not ask us to meet him after this period since that will lead to more confusion. We need a clear yes or no within the time frame.”
Yashin Dalal of Zirkon Developers, which is redeveloping buildings in Kandivli, asked that the Brihan-mumbai Municipal Corporation shoulder the responsibility of clearing projects. “The second part of the MoD directive states that the commissioner can take a ‘considered decision’ if the LMA doesn’t offer any remark. The whole area is a residential zone, not a restricted area,” he said.
When the CM was apprised of the scepticism that builders and residents have, he said he would direct the BMC to get the relevant orders from the MoD. “If any thing more needed [from our side], we will do it,” he assured.