In an attempt to expedite infrastructure projects in the city, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has now changed its policy on rehabilitation of commercial units affected by these projects. Instead of offering alternative accommodation, the civic body will now be compensating these commercial project-affected people (PAPs) monetarily.
Shortage of alternative place/accommodation to be offered to the PAPs has prompted the civic body to take this move. Besides, delays in rehabilitating shopkeepers and other commercial units have held up important projects, especially the widening of roads, is another reason for changing the policy, claim BMC officials.
The policy has been approved at the BMC standing committee and the officials believe this is the best solution although it means extra costs.
Instead of providing alternative accommodation to commercial PAPs in the form of another commercial outlet, the civic body has now proposed to compensate them with the cost of their structures as a greater incentive to move out.
The BMC will now calculate the cost of the commercial structure as per the ready reckoner rates and give the PAPs a proportionate sum of money.
Deputy Municipal Commissioner Ranjit Dhakane, said, “Most of the PAPs especially owners of commercial structures are not willing to move from their original location to alternative places offered. They often complain loss in business. The new policy will help resolve these issues.”
Currently, of the various development and infrastructure projects taken up by the BMC, there are 1,574 PAPs in all. The BMC will require approximately 2,83,320 square feet area to accommodate these PAPs. The 1,574 PAPs include 300 from Goregaon-Mulund link road widening project and 1,094 from the Tansa pipeline.
The market department had provided alternative accommodation admeasuring 2,88,887 square feet on a plot reserved for a market. However, of this 2,88,887 only 8,670 square feet of area is left to be offered to commercial PAPs.
“A major hurdle in infrastructure projects, especially the widening of roads, is the relief and rehabilitation of commercial PAPs,” said another senior official from Market department. “Hence, we have been considering this policy for last few years now. This policy will ensure that PAPs are financially compensated handsomely and also the development works would not be delayed due to failed rehabilitation efforts,” added the official.
Critical road widening projects, the Mithi River and Brihanmumbai Storm Water Drain (BRIMSTOWAD), were delayed because of resistance to rehabilitation from commercial PAPs.
In the past, widening of two major arterial roads, Swami Vivekanand (SV) Road in the western suburbs and the Lal Bahadur Shastri (LBS) Marg in the eastern suburbs, were stuck for more than a decade because of failed relief and rehabilitation attempts.
A senior official from the Roads department said nearly 80 to 90 per cent of the PAPs in road-widening projects are commercial outlet owners.
“Most of the times, the alternative accommodation that we offer PAPs is far from their existing location,” said a senior civic official, who did not wish to be named. “We do not have enough place to accommodate these 1,574 PAPs from ongoing projects, the number of PAPs will just increase with new projects,” the official added.