Mumbai: The much-talked about makeover of Dagdi Chawl, the infamous fortress-like den of underworld kingpin Arun Gawli, has been put on hold for some time now. Reason? Gawli, via his Livstone Developers (LLP) (name as mentioned in MHADA files), has approached the government with a fresh proposal for cluster development of the 10 plots that make up Dagdi Chawl. All the plots are in the name of Arun Gawli and family, including wife Asha, daughter Geeta, and members Manish, Yogesh and Yogeeta.
‘Daddy’ (as Gawli is popularly called by tenants) now wants to develop Dagdi Chawl under Section 33 (9) of the Development Control Planning Regulations (DCPR) instead of Section 33 (7). Under this section, Gawli will get an added advantage of extra FSI (depending on the plot) plus amenities like maidans, carparks and parks / gardens. Moreover, tenants can be given more carpet area space and larger homes of 540 square feet and more, MHADA’s Chief Officer, Arun Dongre, Mumbai Building Repair and Residential Board, told The Free Press Journal.
However, the basic requirement for availing the benefits of this cluster development rule is that the plot to be developed should not be less than 4000 square metres and they must meet some traffic and environmental and other regulations.
The plan is to replace the existing eight to 10 ground-plus-two storeyed chawl structures with two swanky and shining 40-storey towers. “One tower will house the existing tenants and the second will be up for sale,” Vinayak Karawade, Chairman, Dagdi Chawl Tenants’ Association, said.
The earlier proposal that was under consideration by MHADA in 2021 was to develop the said property under Section 33(7). The developers have now approached MHADA to put that proposal on hold as they have submitted a fresh one under Section 33 (9).
New proposal to be scrutinised
The new proposal will be scrutinised by a committee under the chairmanship of the municipal commissioner. It will then be sent to the Urban Department, Government of Maharashtra, for final approval before it comes to MHADA for verification and eligibility of the 386 tenants and occupants. The no-objection certificate will be issued only after due process has been followed and all documents and paper work are in place.
Meanwhile, eyebrows are being raised as to who this little-known company – ‘Livstone Developers (LLP)’ – with whom Gawli has tied up for Dagdi Chawl redevelopment is? What is its past track record?
We tried calling the Mumbai-based developer and spoke to one Sushil Kamble, who is reported to be in charge of the Dagdi Chawl project. He refused to comment saying, “It’s too early. We are still at the planning stage.” Asked about their past record, he skirted the issue: “I have nothing to say. Look up our website Livingstone Infra Projects Ltd.”
Interestingly, all the paper work that has been submitted to MHADA has been in the name of Livstone Developers (LLP). When we drew his attention to this, he refused to comment.
Karawade, however, explained that Livstone Developers has in the past redeveloped towers in Jacob’s Circle (Saat Rasta) and Agripada. “We tied up with them because they were offering us the best deal in terms of bigger flats to tenants, better amenities and other considerations. Plus Rs20,000 has been agreed upon as rent to be given to every tenant family for relocation purposes till the time the towers get ready.”
'We have nothing to do with them': Dongre
Dongre, on the other hand, maintained that he had no knowledge about the developer. “We have nothing to do with them. It is entirely the call of the owners of the plot to decide who to award their redevelopment contract to. We at MHADA are concerned with the repair and reconstruction of old cess buildings. Dagdi Chawl is over 80 years-old,” he said.
Currently Dagdi Chawl has 10 ground-plus-two chawl structures (of these two have been demolished) with tenants living in rooms sized 120sqft carpet area with common toilets. Under the new proposal they will get homes measuring 540sqft area with attached bathrooms / toilets.
Meanwhile, the chawl residents are gung ho about their new shiny towers and are already toying with several names such as ‘Dagdi Chawl Towers’, ‘Dagdi Chawl Residency’, ‘DC Towers’.
The chawl was once notorious for providing a safe hideout to Gawli when he was at loggerheads with the Dawood Ibrahim and Ashwin Naik Gangs. It’s here that the late encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar conducted several raids and encounters when ‘Daddy’ was at his peak. One extortion call from Gawli’s key aide-cum-confidante, Mama, would send shivers down the spine of city builders. According to former IPS officer AA Khan, Dagdi Chawl was infamous for its squeak routes and underground tunnels and Gawli would use these as escape routes whenever police raided.
But for now it’s curtains down for this once infamous chawl.