Mumbai: Setting the stage for another confrontation, the Centre has shot down the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government's proposal for the revamp of the century-old eyesores, British Development Department (BDD) Chawls in Sewri which are situated on Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) land, officials said on Thursday.
A letter by the union minister Sonowal was sent to the Sewri Constituency Member of Parliament (MP) Arvind Sawant on June 3 denying the redevelopment proposal. The letter reads, "..the redevelopment proposal of Sewri BDD Chawl from the Mumbai Port Trust Authority was examined. At present, there is no enabling provision under any existing policy of the ministry of ports, shipping and waterways to enact this proposal in its present form. This has been intimidated to the Mumbai Port Trust," A copy of the letter is with the FPJ.
Resulting from the denial of the much-awaited Sewri BDD Chawl redevelopment project by the Union ministry, now the Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant has expressed his resentment against the BJP-led Union government. He said, "Centre has rejected Sewri BDD Chawl redevelopment proposal. Denying the residents their rightful ownership rights for the new houses, we strongly oppose the stand taken by the BJP."
The Free Press Journal had extensively reported how the Sewri BDD Chawl redevelopment project has been under cold storage for a long time for want of permission or transfer of land to the state government to carry out the proposed redevelopment of 12 old dilapidated buildings.
These structures comprising ground plus three were built in 1922 and this year they turned 100 yrs old. There is a total of 960 tenements, in which tenants are still staying, however, with no sign of redevelopment to be taken up soon, now these residents have been living in fear, especially during monsoon as the risk of building collapse is more as these structures have turned old enough.
Mansingh Rane, one of the tenants and also a spokesperson for the Akhil Sewri BDD Chawl redevelopment project said, "We are extremely disappointed with the reply given by the centre regarding the proposed redevelopment plan of our buildings. It is unacceptable that the centre has denied carrying out the redevelopment proposals. We now will soon plan to organise a protest against the declaration given by the union minister." He further added that a meeting by the tenants will be held by next week where the next course of action will be planned. "We have been left with no choice but to come on roads and protest against the centre for our long pending redevelopment demand," Rane stressed.
Currently, only the redevelopment of the rest of the BDD schemes at Naigoan, NM Joshi and Worli has been Initiated. Since these layouts are in the jurisdiction of the state government, but Sewri project is stuck for want of permission from the centre as the approving authority is Mumbai Port Trust which is governed by the central ministry.The residents in Sewri BDD chawl have been staying with their families for three generations. These houses are only 160 sq. ft of houses, now as families are getting bigger all want new and bigger houses. Several tenants voiced that Since their families have been extended, many separated over lack of space in these old houses. If they get new houses they all can stay once again together. Moreover, staying in a rented apartment is not affordable, the tenants expressed. The Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) is the project implementing authority for the BDD chawl redevelopment project for all layouts except Sewri. In fact, all three BDD Chawl redevelopment projects at Worli, Naigoan, and NM Joshi are one of the biggest housing redevelopment projects in the state. Apart from providing new houses to the original tenants, new housing stock will be generated in prime locations in Mumbai city which will be offered to the public at affordable rates under lottery draw by MHADA, the Maharashtra government aims.