Kamathipura Redevelopment Project: MHADA Takes The Lead After Builders Show Hesitancy

Kamathipura Redevelopment Project: MHADA Takes The Lead After Builders Show Hesitancy

With profit margins being low, many builders found the project financially unviable and unattractive.

Draupadi RoheraUpdated: Saturday, November 25, 2023, 06:58 PM IST
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Kamathipura Redevelopment Project: MHADA Takes The Lead As Builders Show Hesitancy |

So what is holding up the much talked about makeover of Asia’s second largest red light area Kamathipura? The redevelopment project which has been in the news for sometime now has failed to kickstart on the ground primarily because no developer was keen on investing in it. With profit margins being low, many found the project financially unviable and unattractive.

Hesitancy among builders to take up project

According to local  MLA Amin Patel (Congress) , there was hesitancy among builders because of the magnitude and size of the project what with its 15 odd lanes making up a sprawling 37 acres of land and housing over 8000 to 10,000 tenants and 600 landlords. “Developers were scared of the innumerable permissions that the project entailed and were not interested in running around for approvals to different agencies. Moreover, There was no clarity as to who would be the main implementing authority which is why they shied away from the project.”

But after the state government appointed Mumbai Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) as the nodal agency for implementation and also set up a High Powered Committee (HPC) to oversee the project, things have gotten a bit streamlined, Patel said. 

New amendments to the rules and regulations including increased FSI and bigger incentives for cluster development were announced following which the project became viable to builders. And to instill confidence among developers, MHADA has decided to set up of a single window system for all permissions.

In next 2 weeks tenders would be floated for Detailed Project Report.

Arun Dongre, Chief Officer of Mumbai Building Repair and Reconstruction Board told the FPJ that very soon within the next two weeks tenders would be floated for the appointment of a consultant to prepare the Detailed Project Report. And within a month’s time things would start moving on fast track.

If no developer shows interest, MHADA will kickstart project

He added that if no developer still shows interest, MHADA will kickstart the project on its own. “We will enter the picture and to begin with, will take up the redevelopment of one cluster,” he maintained.

Shailesh Mahimtura of Mahimtura Consultants Pvt Ltd (they were jointly appointed as Project Management Consultants with ABM Consultants by the Landlords) told the FPJ that because the project is so huge builders were scared of investing in it. “With governments coming and going and policies changing, nobody wants their work to get stuck. Plus the investment and funding required are huge.’

He noted that it would be a great idea if the government/MHADA comes forward and begins work on one cluster. “As it is each cluster is self sufficient and can be developed independently by different builders. This may enthuse many others to follow”.

Expert's view on how the development could be done

Sunil Devle who was earlier assisting ABM Consultants on the feasibility report of the project told FPJ that MHADA may have to break up the 35 acres and divide them into smaller land parcel units of 3 to 4 acres. “The agency can then assign each cluster development/land parcel to different developers. This way the project may become profitable for them,” he pointed out.

According to Dongre, the ground survey has been completed and tenants and landlords for once have come on board and agreed to participate in the makeover. “Every tenant will be given a 508 sq ft area home free of cost.  Landlords, on their part, have agreed to forgo the market value of their property. They have been promised 508 sq ft flat for every 50 sq metres of their land. With this main hurdle crossed I am optimistic the project will now get expedited”.

“MHADA will have to give this to us in writing"

Anil Dudka, a landlord in Kamathipura admitted that with the new rule, most landlords - nearly 60 per cent are agreeable to the proposal but “MHADA will have to give this to us in writing. It may take time because many landlords don’t have updated versions of their property cards”.

Kamathipura makeover, Dongre said is being visualised holistically as a hub for medium range commercial and affordable housing units complete with schools, gardens, malls, parks and other amenities. 

“It will be a mixed development catering to low and medium range buyers. It cannot be high end because of the very nature and character of the locality. Most residents are Kamathi workers and their families have been staying here for decades,” Devle said.

Mahimtura admitted that even in their original master plan they had tried to retain the social fabric of the area and had visualised it primarily as a low cost affordable housing and residential hub.

“Commercial is open and can be worked out - a hotel or a big office building that can be rented or leased out are options that one can explore,” he added.

 Patel pointed out that this area also includes Agripada and Mumbai Central which are centrally located and can therefore, be developed as commercial property.

Tenants, however, are vey gung ho about the project. Akhilesh Pande a milk delivery man and tenant residing in Lane 7 of Kamathipura says that the makeover will be like a dream come true. “My family comprises 13 members and we reside in a one room tiny kholi. All of us are hard pressed for space and our families are expanding. The entire area is high density. We don’t even have space to park our two wheelers…our toilets are tiny and common. Now with a promise of a 500 sq ft home, I am so looking forward to the project taking off."

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