Coronavirus in Mumbai: Lockdown stalls BDD Chawl redevelopment

Mumbai: The state-led Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority's (MHADA's) ambitious redevelopment project, the century-old Bombay Development Directorate (BDD) chawls, has entirely stalled due to the lockdown. These chawls are located at Worli, NM Joshi Marg, Naigoan and Sewri. The MHADA had started the redevelopment process on layouts, except Sewri BDD chawls. However, in this COVID crisis time, all project-related works have come to a complete standstill, informed a MHADA official.

"From March 22 all project-related works that included signing up of transit accommodation agreement with the eligible tenants has been halted. A few chawls at Worli and other BDD chawls still under containment zone. Besides, the plan to conduct lottery draw for 265 tenants who already shifted to transit houses at NM Joshi Marg that too was cancelled in this COVID situation. Until the situation comes to a normal life nothing can be commented, " the official stated.

The MHADA official believes that post coronavirus, the BDD chawl tenants may show some favourable response to the project. "The state has offered 500 square ft of houses to the BDD chawl tenants with individual toilet facilities. In this COVID time, everyone has realised how the common toilet facility endangered their lives and increased the risk of getting infected. Using a public toilet turned out to be dangerous."

The BDD chawl redevelopment project work order is of April 2017, however, till date not a single brick has been placed despite appointing renowned builders for the project. The total project cost is pegged at Rs 17,000 crore wherein developers like--TATA, Shapoorji Pallonji and L&T-- to undertake the 206 BDD chawls spread across 92 acres, of which 120 are in Worli, 32 in NM Joshi Marg, 42 in Naigao and 12 in Worli have been appointed. Through this proposed redevelopment project about 16,000 families living currently in a small a size house of 160 sq. ft will shift to a larger house of 500 sq.ft.

Kiran Mane, secretary of Akhil BDD Chawl Bhadekaru Hakk Saurakshan Samiti, Worli said, "Our Worli BDD chawl residents were always in favour of the redevelopment project. We also gave a good response to the sample flat which is ready. Now once the COVID crisis gets over we only want the government to take up the project on a much faster pace. Also, other BDD chawl tenants of Naigoan and NM Joshi, some of whom are against and yet not convinced should now understand how important this project is, not just in terms of getting a new house but health-wise especially during such conditions."

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