Mumbai Makeover:Old Chawls to metamorphise into high rises

The Supreme Court okayed the Maharashtra government’s plan to demolish dilapidated chawls in Mumbai to make way for multi-storey buildings with the condition that every chawl tenant should get a flat in the new building.The apex court found nothing illegal in the scheme, formulated in 1991 and amended in 1999, to accommodate chawl tenants in the proposed multistorey housing schemes with a joint partnership by the building owners and the residents.
A bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and P Sathasivam set aside the Bombay High Court verdict of 2006, making several modifications in the government plan. With the green signal to the scheme brought out by the Maharashtra Urban Development Authority, covering chawls constructed prior to 1940, 19,644 buildings will face demolition. These buildings, irrespective of whether they are dilapidated or not, can now be redeveloped “whenever 70% of the tenants/occupants of such buildings came together along with their landlords for redevelopment of their properties’’. They would also be entitled to extra FSI as an incentive. Upholding the validity of the plan, the apex court said when the state came out with the scheme in 1991 nearly 73 per cent of the households occupied one room in the “vertical slums, 18 per cent two rooms and more than 90 per cent lived in a very small area”. Since the scheme guaranteed at least 250 square feet to every tenant in the multi-storey building, the apex court said it was almost double the space of 100 to 120 square feet occupied by a chawl tenant.For approving the plan, the apex court relied heavily on a survey of the municipal corporation in 1980 showing 30,237 chawls in a dilapidated condition and Kerkar committee report, stating that a vast majority of them would have to be reconstructed.

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