In a boost for the Bhendi Bazaar cluster redevelopment scheme, BMC corporators on Monday cleared the transfer of lease for about one acre of municipal plots to the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust (SBUT), in-charge of executing the project.
According to the proposal, in exchange for the 23 civic-owned plots in the Bhendi Bazaar neighbourhood, collectively measuring up to 4617.71 sqm, the SBUT will hand over its two plots that measure more than 5,547.49 sqm to the BMC, located in Bhuleshwar.
In addition to transferring the prime location plots to the BMC, the SBUT will also pay the civic body 50 per cent of the ready reckoner rate for the plots they will receive till the civic body completes its valuation of the trust’s properties.
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“The exchange had to be carried out to maintain the contiguity of the project spread over 16.5 acres of the Bhendi Bazaar neighbourhood. The 23 BMC plots are scattered in smaller parcels in the area set to undergo redevelopment. Hence, the trust felt it would be better to acquire these plots in exchange for its own plots that are located in other parts of South Mumbai. They had initiated the proposal in January 2013,” said BJP corporator and improvements committee chairman Ram Barot.
The improvements committee approved of the proposal on Saturday, and with the civic general body’s approval now in tow, the SBUT has completed the acquisition of a sizeable portion of land transfers to move ahead with the project. In fact, the trust hopes to begin construction on the project, three years after it was first announced, later this month.
“The BMC Act allows for such land lease transfers if the party concerned follows the stipulated conditions. We set our conditions to make the transfer viable and since the trust has adhered to these, it was possible to allow the transfer,” said Mayor Sunil Prabhu.
While the BMC-reserved plots are marked for commercial purposes, the two plots SBUT has offered are demarcated as residential.
“When negotiating the terms of the transfer, we laid a condition ensuring that the plots the SBUT was offering us are marked for purposes that allow for development/construction later on. We also set a condition that the plots must be located at a distance of at least around one-kilometer from the civic-owned plots,” said a senior civic official.
As an earnest money deposit, till valuation of the SBUT properties is completed, the trust must pay the BMC 50 per cent of the ready reckoner rate value for the civic body’s plots. It has been estimated that the BMC’s plots in Bhendi Bazaar are worth around Rs 40 crore.
The Bhendi Bazaar redevelopment project with a budget of over Rs 3,000 crore is the largest cluster redevelopment project in the country. The SBUT is a community trust of the Dawoodi Bohras, who predominantly reside in the dense 200-year-old neighbourhood of cessed properties and dilapidated buildings set to undergo redevelopment. The project aims to rehabilitate around 3,200 families and 1,250 businesses here.
So far, the SBUT claims to have received the consent of over 87 per cent owners of 250 properties and 77 per cent approval from tenants in the project area. Demolitions have already been carried out on 35 of the 250 buildings in the Bazaar with an additional 10 buildings slated for the hammer soon. “Whenever MHADA declares a building as dangerous and dilapidated, we immediately carry out evacuation and demolition. Over 1,400 families have been moved to the trust’s residential transit camps at Ghodapdeo and Anjirwadi,” said a SBUT spokesperson.
Moreover, the trust claims that at present 140 commercial establishments have committed to moving into it’s newly-built transit shopping arcade located about 1km away from the Bazaar near JJ Hospital for the duration of the project.
To prevent delays, the project has been divided into nine clusters and SBUT expects to begin it’s construction with Cluster 3. Phase one of the construction plan includes clusters 1, 2 and 3. The trust is said to be in the advanced stage of getting final approval to begin construction of the project. “While we are always looking to carry evacuation/demolition in all clusters, we are specifically focusing on clusters 1, 2 and 3,” the spokesperson said.
However, while it has already received green clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests, a recent apex court order on mandatory open spaces for redeveloped buildings and fire exits is said to be a concern for the project.