AN AMBITIOUS multi-million redevelopment plan that seeks to transform the landscape of South Mumbai’s crumbling Imamwada has taken off. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has sought the Maharashtra government’s nod for redeveloping a string of old residential buildings (standing on 3.5 acres) under the urban renewal or cluster redevelopment scheme.
One of the densest localities in the island city, Imamwada holds an important place in the city’s long history of trade and commerce. However, the infrastructure here is creaking and traffic levels horrifying at any hour of the day. In a bid to modernise the locality, the BMC has now proposed redevelopment of the Bombay Improvement Trust chawls as per the state’s cluster redevelopment policy.
A state-appointed high-powered committee headed by BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta has already given the proposal a go ahead. The proposal has now been placed before the urban development department headed by CM Devendra Fadnavis. A senior state official said that the Imamwada redevelopment is the first proposal to be submitted after the state government came out with it’s new cluster redevelopment policy last September.
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The plan involves pulling down eight buildings and 40 shops, and constructing nine highrise towers in their place.
As the 960-odd houses located on the land go vertical, more open spaces will be available for roads, parking, and greenery. Residents will get a minimum of 350 sq ft carpet area, said Salim Kodia, Partner, M.K. Enterprises, which is implementing the redevelopment project.
Local MLA Amin Patel, who has been pushing the redevelopment plan, said the project will also see construction of a 30,000 sq ft public hospital and a 6,500 sq ft public library that would be handed over free-of-cost to the BMC. Kodia further informed that the BMC’s own share in the redevelopment will be about 1.2 lakh square feet. “We are also setting up a separate building to accommodate 100 houses for policemen,” he said.
The BMC had originally tied up with the builder for redeveloping the building under development control rule 33(7) in the town planning norm, which involves redevelopment of old and dilapidated buildings. In fact, Kodia said construction of four out of eight rehabilitation buildings have been completed, before developers vied for redevelopment under cluster redevelopment, which provides higher floor space incentives.
The BMC’s estate department, which is the custodian of the property, readily agreed to the developer’s proposal, even as the tenants won’t be getting a share in the increased floor space index. Under the cluster redevelopment policy, the BMC’s share in the redevelopment will witness a nine-fold increase.
Although the civic body is yet to consent to the property’s redevelopment under the new policy, the high-powered committee agreed to the developer’s proposal this May. Tenants too have so far not opposed the plan. “We have consented to the developer in writing that we were willing to go for redevelopment under either rule,” said Sunil Rahate, a tenant. Sachin Amrute, another tenant, echoed Sunil’s viewpoint.
A state government official said that the government may however impose a pre-condition seeking the civic body’s resolution before considering a final approval for the project. “The new cluster policy clearly states that a prior consent of land owners is a must while converting a 33(7) redevelopment proposal into one that includes the cluster redevelopment rule. Ideally, the developers and BMC must also seek a fresh consent from tenants,” a senior official said.
The developer has also brought more area — about 32,200 sq ft — under redevelopment while applying for conversion under the new policy. Ajoy Mehta confirmed that an impact assessment study regarding the impact of the redevelopment project on the surrounding infrastructure will be necessary before going ahead. The Bombay High Court has barred the state government and BMC from approving any new cluster redevelopment scheme without impact assessment studies. The developer will also be required to obtain a fresh environmental clearance for the entire project, urban development officials said.
Meanwhile, Kodia said that developers have approached the state for relaxation in norms for open space margins in front of buildings. The new cluster policy allows the government to relax planning norms. It has been argued that such a relaxation had already been extended in another case.
Amrute, meanwhile, said that residents are satisfied with the construction work carried out so far. “We were living in a 130 sq ft room.Now we can look forward to residing in a proper 1BHK apartment. Residents are also hoping that the surrounding infrastructure and roads will witness a marked improvement once the makeover is complete,” Rahate said.
Incidentally, Mumbai’s famous Bhendi Bazaaar, which is already undergoing a makeover as per the cluster policy, is situated just a stone’s throw away from Imamwada.