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Over 100 towers okayed,infrastructure can wait

The labyrinth of over 60-year-old buildings at Gola street in Fort has nothing to differentiate one from the other except for the narrow strips of soggy house gullies separating them.

Written by Shalini Nair | Mumbai |
February 15, 2009 12:13:38 am

Green signal for redevelopment proposals can spell doom for planning

The labyrinth of over 60-year-old buildings at Gola street in Fort has nothing to differentiate one from the other except for the narrow strips of soggy house gullies separating them. Amidst the clutter,incongruous tin sheets cordon off a 104 sq mt plot. The ground floor structure here will soon be razed to make way for a highrise towering over a street not even wide enough for a vehicle to pass.

In the past five months since the Supreme Court order on DCR 33/7 removed the cap on vertical development of old buildings in the island city,the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) has cleared redevelopment proposals from developers of 100-odd buildings like the one at Gola street.

The floor space index (ratio of the structure’s built up area to the plot area) of the reconstructed towers will be anywhere between 2.5 and 6 as against the otherwise standard 1.33 FSI in the island city. From MHADA officials to urban planners,all concede that the haphazard redevelopment of individual structures spells the doom of urban planning.

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Based on the Supreme Court ruling,the MHADA has cleared the construction of towers in the already chock-a-block alleys of Bhuleshwar,Fort,Girgaum,Byculla and Parel on plots as small as 60 sq mts to 500 sq mts.

“Much before the Supreme Court ruling,the government had mooted its draft policy for systematic redevelopment of clusters of old buildings. However,more than eight months have passed and the cluster redevelopment policy is yet to be finalised. In the meantime,several developers have applied for permission to pull down individual buildings in crowded areas and construct towers in their place,” a MHADA official said.

The cluster redevelopment policy aims at redeveloping structures spread out over an acre along with roads and other infrastructure.

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“We are slowly but surely destroying whatever little vestiges of heritage we have in the city. Authorities should have better judgment than to allow this wreckage on infrastructure in congested areas like Gamdevi,Tardeo,Nana Chowk Chowk and Kalbadevi. While talking about turning the city into Shanghai or Singapore,we are turning it into Slumbay,” said urban conservationist Sharada Dwivedi.

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First published on: 15-02-2009 at 12:13:38 am

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