Shop owners move from Dawood's land to Balwa's

Dec 16, 2011, 08:07 IST | Varun Singh

After the November 26 fire gutted almost 1,000 shops in and around the Sara Sahara commercial complex, many of the affected entrepreneurs are planning to make the Orchid City Centre Mall their new address

Owners of shops at Sara Sahara complex -- a commercial complex linked with fugitive don Dawood Ibrahim -- who were dispossessed after it was gutted in a fire on November 26, have now finally found a new address at the Orchid City Centre Mall, owned by the real estate giant DB Group.

New address: Many of the shop owners of Sara Sahara complex are
shifting to the new location at City Centre Mall, which is owned by DB
Group. It is located 10 minutes away from Mumbai Central railway

Pic/ Datta Kumbhar

The new address is just a 10-minute walk from the Mumbai Central railway station.

Ever since the devastating fire reduced nearly 1,000 small and big shops located in and around the complex to cinders, shop owners have been in search of a new location to accommodate themselves. The quest was long and protracted ('Sorry, no grey dealing here', December 15). Giving up, many of the shop owners moved independently to different quarters.

"It is true that most of the shop keepers have moved from Sara Sahara to different locations. While some have moved to shop spaces in the small lane and by-lanes of South Mumbai, others are shifting to City Centre Mall," said Farid Batatawala, secretary of Manish Market.

Batatawala insisted that these new addresses were temporary, and all the shop owners would be rehabilitated to their original spots in the Sara Sahara complex within months. "The entrepreneurs cannot suddenly pull the breaks on their business, and hence they have set up shop in spots so they can keep their business going. This explains the move," he added.

Another shopkeeper said confidentially, "There are many shopkeepers who have applied for shops at the City Centre mall. However, it would take nearly two months to rehabilitate all of them. There is a high demand for shops between 25-100 sq ft."

He added that rent for small 25 sq-ft shop spaces had shot up to Rs 8,000 per month, although it included maintenance and security charges.  The mall property is owned by Neelkamal Realtors, which is under the DB group. When contacted, a spokesperson said, "The mall in question has been leased to the Future Group. We request you to get in touch with them for further information on the matter."

Efforts made to extract an appropriate response from Future Group ended in futility.

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Sara-Sahara Complex: The Sara Sahara complex was originally located next to Manish Market in Crawford Market in South Mumbai. Better known as an enterprise allegedly owned by underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, the 10-yr-old shopping complex has been the subject of litigation since 2005. In 2003, Dawood's brother, Iqbal Kaskar was arrested on charges of bribing BMC officials and getting permission to construct the Sara mall on a land meant for a civic school. He allegedly used force to evict dwellers that made way for the Sara complex.

Orchid South City Mall: The mall is owned by DB Group. One of the promoters of this Mumbai-based real estate giant is Shahid Balwa, who was arrested by the CBI on February 9, 2011, for his involvement in the 2G scam, on the allegation that a company floated by him had transferred Rs 200 crore to a media company owned by members of DMK party.

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