Mumbai: How BDD Chawl residents react to redevelopment news

Residents of the 100-year old BDD Chawl, react to redevelopment news with joy mixed with caution

A wave of jubilation spread through the by lanes of the 100-year-old Bombay Development Directorate (BDD) Chawl in Worli, as news of the government finally initiating the chawl's redevelopment plan started doing the rounds.

Also Read: Stalled for decades, BDD chawls to be redeveloped in 2016

Members of the chawl committee discussing the redevelopment
Members of the chawl committee discussing the redevelopment

With assurances coming from the Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, and a meeting slated for the end of month to finalise the long-pending plan for the chawl's redevelopment, residents are oscillating between happiness and cynicism.

Mahesh Yelwe, Govt. employee said since his grandfather moved into the chawl in 1942 his family has been waiting for the redevelopment plan. “My grandchildren are now in their teens, but we are still here. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the project doesn’t get stalled again.”

Kunal Naringare (centre) and his mother at the bustling BDD Chawl PICS/SHADAB KHAN
Kunal Naringare (centre) and his mother at the bustling BDD Chawl Pics/Shadab Khan

The BDD chawls are in Worli, Naigaon and Lower Parel. “We want our chawl to remain as it is. The new buildings will have no space to play cricket and run about. We almost live in each others houses,” said Amit Kable, a class VII student of Sacred Heart High School, Worli.

Yet, youngsters are happy thinking about a nifty new address without the word chawl in it, separate toilets and elevators in their building, make it worthwhile.

Youngsters are happy at the thought of separate toilets and bigger rooms, a whole new address
Youngsters are happy at the thought of separate toilets and bigger rooms, a whole new address

“Worli is very upscale area, but, living in a chawl comes with its drawbacks. I am hesitant of getting friends home with me since there is neither space, nor enough light. Living in a house with a separate bedroom and attached toilet is what I look forward to the most,” said Vijaya Tawar, a 23-year-old sales tax officer.

There is some trepidation though, like for Kunal Naringare, 22, who works as a stenographer who wonders how much space they will be allotted. Over the years, almost all rooms in the chawl have been extended; some have built balconies. The cost of outgoing of the new houses is a worry for the residents. Currently they pay Rs. 17 to Rs.20 per month to the Public Works Department (PWD).

Read Story: Council Chairman asks govt to prepare a policy on BDD chawls

Children play cricket. This space and freedom may slip out of their hands once buildings come up
Children play cricket. This space and freedom may slip out of their hands once buildings come up

“The square feet area of the rooms are different and the government is planning on a blanket 500 square feet house for all residents, which is a concern for many. There is no clarity on several issues like accommodation during the constructions, cost of maintenance and who will undertake the redevelopment project,” Naringare added.

The Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) has fixed transit camps for residents when buildings are constructed, the BDD chawl residents are absolutely against the idea of moving to any other area.

“We have seen the condition of those transit camps, while it will be either MHADA or some other body overseeing our redevelopment, we will not move far away places for the time being or go live in such transit camps,” Aniket Chawan, caterer who lives in the Naigaon BDD chawl said. Chawan added that Naigaon residents fear that since the Worli side of the chawl is more prime in terms of location, the residents there will get better deals.

Making a point

Close to 16,000 families reside in the 121 BDD chawls in Worli alone. Parts of Sewree and Naigaon house another 80 odd chawls.
After much delay, a meeting between Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) officials and the government has been scheduled for November 28 to discuss on the possible date to commence the plan. The project to redevelop the chawl had been stuck in the pipeline for over 15 years.

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