Mumbai makeover got a fresh impetus on Wednesday, with chief minister Devendra Fadnavis unveiling a series of policies related to affordable housing, redevelopment of slums, transit camps, and property tax waiver while underlining a strong message that open spaces in the island city and suburbs will not be compromised in the new development plan. “The state government has taken a decision to bring a separate independent development control regulation (DCR) for the koliwadas, goathan and tribal padas dotted across Mumbai and its suburbs,” Fadnavis said. The decision comes in the wake of moves for redevelopment of these traditional colonies in existence in Mumbai for a century, in a planned manner to provide better infrastructure and amenities. The agenda is to provide higher priority and protect the interest of fishermen and tribal communities, the original custodians of these colonies.
Another major decision, which would bring relief to more than 70 per cent Mumbaikars, relates to property tax waiver. The chief minister said, “The government is positive about giving property tax waiver for houses upto 700 square feet.” The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, which is the guardian agency, will have to bring a proposal and government would give the consent, he announced.
The financial implications of the property tax waiver on BMC will be Rs 600 crore. Considering BMC is the richest local body, it was felt that it is capable of bearing the financial burden. However, similar decisions cannot be extended to other local bodies which face financial crunch, the chief minister said. Both Shiv Sena and BJP were in favour of property tax waiver. While the Sena had proposed a tax waiver on 500 square feet houses, BJP sought it for 700 square feet. The chief minister said, “The government is willing to accept the (tax waiver) demand upto 700 square feet.”
Fadnavis outlined the government’s roadmap for Mumbai’s transformation while replying to a debate in the state Assembly. He said, “The new development plan for Mumbai and its suburbs has been meticulously planned. The central aspect of this DP is open spaces which would never be compromised.” At the same time, the government was committed to make Mumbai a slum free city with a humane approach and development giving emphasis to rules and regulations. Almost all the redevelopment projects will provide houses to eligible individuals between 400 to 500 square feet.
While refuting the charge that Mumbai DP plan has been delayed, he said, “The government received the Mumbai DP on August 2, 2017. The town planning director completed its scrutiny on February 2018. In accordance to the provisions, state government gets 2.5 years of statutory period for approval. We are determined to release the DP plan by March 2018.”
Referring to the government’s decision to build affordable houses, the chief minister said, “The survey shows the demand for houses in Mumbai is 20 lakh. Almost 50 per cent of the demand stems from MMR region. If we eliminate the segments of duplication, the realistic requirements would come down to 14 to 15 lakh.” At present five lakh houses are under construction in various stages. And in the next two years, housing constructions will multiple manifold following policy incentives taken by the government.
While stating that illegal occupants in the transit camps will have to face eviction, he said, “There are three categories of people living in transit camps. Those who are occupying transit camps following redevelopment of their original houses will be provided permanent dwelling in the same. As their original property could not be developed. In the second category, are people who purchased homes in transit camps. On humanitarian ground they will also be considered as legal occupants along with some penalty.” However, those who have illegally entered the transit camps will be evicted. But since housing for all is the government’s commitment, such category would be rehabilitated in some other ongoing housing projects undertaken through Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna or related projects.
For the first time, the state government has planned to redevelop the slum colonies along the railway tracks and in suburbs. The chief minister said, “I have discussed the proposal with Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal. It is our endeavor to redevelop slums along railway tracks. This would help in providing decant colonies for people and create a large parcel of open land for the railways. It would also help to clear illegal encroachment along the railway tracks.”
While asserting the government’s commitment for redevelopment of Asia’s biggest slum Dharavi, the chief minister said, “In the past, tenders yielded poor response twice. As a result we had to re-look the project development. The special purpose vehicle (SVP) has been constituted for the project which would be built through public-private model. The work is under process and in advanced stage.” In Bombay Improvement Trust chawl redevelopment, 51 proposals have been approved by the government out of the total 67. The remaining proposals have been sought for scrutiny before giving final approval, the chief minister said.
Redevelopment of BDD chawls will accommodate those police personnel who have been residing there for the past 30 years along with other mill workers and general residents, he said.