AFTER owners of most erstwhile mill lands reaped profits by encashing the central Mumbai real estate they occupied, the government is now set to ensure that the city gets its due share of these lands for social housing and public open spaces.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, which is in the process of revising the Development Control Regulations for construction projects, has now proposed that the entire mill land be considered for sharing equally between the municipality, the state housing board and the mill owners.
Until now, an amendment to the original land sharing rule for sale of mill lands, first introduced in 2001, allowed mill owners to share only ‘open land’ not occupied by constructed space with the BMC and the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA).
The just-released draft Development Control regulations rule that the sharing formula will be computed, as originally proposed, for the entire land under development.
However, the sharing model has been revised too. Also, according to official records, only two private mills and eight government mills are still available for development.
The newly proposed rules say developers would be asked to surrender 18 per cent of the mill land for open spaces, and another 18 per cent for low-cost housing. The rest of the land may be used for commercial development. If the mill occupies less than five hectares, the social housing and open space component will be 16.5 per cent each.
Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta said the revised regulations aimed to create more social housing and open spaces.
Former mill workers’ union leader Datta Ishwalkar, however, said this was too little, too late. “Most of the mills have already exploited the existing loopholes, and have turned into prime real estate. We have been agitating against the exploitation, but most of our concerns were overlooked,” he said.
Until 1996, there were 54 textile mills on 600 acres of land in Lalbaug, Parel, Dadar and surrounding areas. Of these, 29 were privately owned.
Ishwalkar has demanded that the new sharing formula be applied even to partially developed mill lands. “Also, the authorities must use the revision process to plug another loophole that allows mill owners to retain the entire land on grounds that the existing mill was being developed without razing it,” he added. Mehta said the municipality would consider these demands.