Mumbai: Even as the company implementing the Matharpacady redevelopment project says that it has obtained all mandatory clearances for the work, residents, some of whom were shifted from dilapidated buildings to transit camps nearly four decades ago, have called for a compromise to solve the dispute with neighbours over the reconstruction of the heritage-listed precinct.
A recent notification by the BMC allows the area to be rebuilt under the 'cluster development' scheme, which means that the locality in Mazgaon, dotted with homes built in Indo-Portuguese style, can be replaced with high-rise buildings. The area is listed as a Grade 3 precinct under Mumbai's urban heritage laws. While a group of residents want to preserve the village, which dates back to the 16th century, their neighbours who occupy small tenements in dilapidated buildings want redevelopment that could give them bigger flats.
Builder's Perspctive On Redevelopment Project
Shreepati Group, the company implementing the project, said that the Development Control and Promotion Regulations 2034, the planning blueprint for the city, has provisions for redevelopment for Grade 3 structures. “The HPC (Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee), the government and Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority has approved the cluster redevelopment scheme. Letter of Intent has been issued,” Rajendra Chaturvedi, chairman emeritus, said in a statement to this newspaper.
However, the project has been delayed because the company needs to acquire more buildings in the heritage-protected area so that they can convert the project into a cluster development which allows them more construction benefits. Under cluster development, the plot has to be of a minimum size of 6,000 square metres.
Chaturvedi said that some buildings in the precinct have become dangerous and the drainage system has collapsed, causing contamination of water even in the old well that was once a source of water for the area.
“Today fire brigade or ambulance cannot cater to structures which are behind the main road,” said Chaturvedi who added that all the properties in the project area are collector lease-hold properties where the lease has not been renewed. “The biggest challenge was Mazgaon Dock's no objection certificate. (Since the project is situated near a defence establishment). Now since Bombay High has quashed the defence circulars it's not mandatory. That biggest challenge is sorted.”
Locals Fear That Redevelopment Will Affect The Heritage
Sharad Satardekar of the Matharpacady Vyapari Sangh, a group campaigning for the cluster development plan, said that fears that the heritage precinct will be wiped out by the project are unfounded. “The heritage area with the church will be unaffected.
Only seven-bungalows will have to be demolished. I understand that some residents want the bungalows to be preserved. The builders have the permission from the majority of residents to go ahead with the project, but we want to work together with everyone without any litigation,” said Satardekar. “I live in a building where 35 families share five toilets. We can't live forever in these buildings.” Satardekar added that nearly 175 families who were shifted from dilapidated buildings in the precinct are staying in crowded and unhygienic transit camps in different parts of the city. One of the former residents who now lives in a Mahim transit camp is Ivan Fernandes. He said he had shifted out with his parents when he was 15 years old after the top floors of the dilapidated building were demolished. “We request the government to do something. I have been living in the transit camp for more than 40 years. Some of us are in their 70s. How long do we stay in the transit camps? We will pass away before we see our homes again,” said Fernandes.
Another former Matharpacady resident Dhananjay Tari, who lives in a transit camp at Pratiksha Nagar, Sion, said, “We want a compromise with other residents.
Residents have to come together for everybody's benefit.” Residents who are opposing the project said that they met the group supporting the reconstruction. “We think selfdevelopment, without involving a builder, is in our best interest. The builders have not offered any concrete plans to the residents. Everything is in the air,” said Denis Baptista, a resident.
Residents, many of whom now live in 80 sq ft tenements, said they are happy with the deal from the builders.
“We are going to develop the above property where we will give tenants 550 sq ft flats of 2 BHK, rent of 15,000 (during construction) and Rs2 lakh corpus. The project will be completed in four years. There are a minority group of tenants and a few landlords (opposing the project). I am confident all will cooperate for development,” Chaturvedi added.