If all goes according to plan, within a few years Kamathipura will have traded its hovels for snazzy high-rises. The proposed cluster redevelopment includes two-thirds of this central location, but leaves out most of the infamous red-light section.
As many as 400 out of 500 landlords owning 700 buildings spread over 39 acres across 16 lanes have prepared the master plan. If it takes off, 7,000 tenants, the majority of whom live in cramped conditions in 80 sqft tenements with, sometimes, five-member families, will be able to have a far more comfortable life in 525 sqft (carpet area) apartments, with free lifetime maintenance.
This will also be the largest urban renewal scheme in Mumbai. As per cluster redevelopment rules, larger the area for redevelopment, bigger the flats. The policy entitles a tenant living in a tenement of area up to 300 sqft to a 525 sqft flat. As per the rules, 70% consent is necessary for the scheme to go ahead. In this instance, consent is 80%. The project will cost Rs.7,824 crore. It will have 24 towers of 23 storeys each as the rehab component. The builtup area will cover 40-45% (of 39 acres). There's a single playground at present. The plan will enable at least five large gardens and an equal number of playgrounds.
Centrally located, the area is bound by Belasis Road, Maulana Shaukat Ali Road (Duncan Road), P Pupala Marg and Suklaji Street. It is very close to Mumbai Central and Byculla railway stations.Kamathipura has seen redevelopment in scattered parts in recent years, but the latest proposal beats everything hands down. A meeting between Dr Ajay Nakashe, who is leading the demand for the re development of BDD chawls by tenants, and Rajendra Satla, a landlord, in 2014 set the ball rolling for the ambitious Kamathipura cluster redevelopment plan.
Satla invited landlords for a presentation by Dr Nakashe.“Over 200 landlords were present for that meeting,“ recalls Satla. Dr Nakashe held a few more presentations for landlords and tenants. Initial scepticism gave way to hope. A few months later 400 landlords formed the Kamathipura Landlords Welfare Association (KLWA).
So, what brought so many landlords together (a task considered impossible without coercion even by the government)? “The buildings are almost a century old and badly maintained. The majority of landlords live in these buildings. Their precarious condition, the fear that some of them may collapse anytime, and the inability to carry out redevelopment individually helped build the consensus for cluster development. Most importantly, the trust factor was on account of the fact that nearly all landlords have grown up together in Kamathipura, been to school together and many are related to one another,“ explained KLWA president Shamrao Channa.
Nakashe, who facilitated KLWA 's formation, said the cluster policy offers great benefits for those willing to overcome distrust and become united by a vision. “It needs a facilitator to bring in the vision and cobble together the trust,“ he said.
For two years, the landlords met alternate Sundays to discuss the plan. Many are active members of various political parties, but consciously kept their allegiances out of the picture. What will they gain from redevelopment? The proposal is for every plot owner to get an almost equivalent-sized flat for every 50 sq m (538 sqft) of plot, plus another flat in lieu of the tenement he resides in. So, the minimum that a landlord will get is two flats if he resides in a building in the area and if his plot is 50 sq m (the number of flats goes up with plot size; so, two flats for a 100 sq m plot).
The association has been holding discussions with various developers. Obtaining consent from tenants is underway .“Since landlords are carrying out the redevelopment, there is no need to call for tenders. If a reputed builder agrees to our proposal, we will appoint that company ,“ said Nakashe.
“We see no opposition as it will bring about a change in quality of life,“ said Ashok Jain, a tenant and member of the tender committee.
Nakashe said landlords should be given the option of a flat or monetary compensation if the area is very close to 100sqm. “There are very few plots that are 95 or 99 sqm. In cases where a plot is 55sqm or something similar, we will accept monetary compensation.“
Now that their work is nearly complete, the landlords are holding discussions with their counterparts who own another 20 acres in Kamathipura (most of the red light section is in this segment). “We have been encouraging them to join the project. If they agree, it will be phase II of Kamathipura's redevelopment,“ said Satla.