An Un-paralleled Makeover Story
Bhendi Bazaar, a more than 100-year old settlement in Mumbai was once considered the city’s most lively commercial hub. Today, the area is reduced to dilapidated buildings, crumbling infrastructure and a run-down neighbourhood. Abbas Master, CEO, Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust (SBUT) briefs on the redevelopment of the area which is an unprecedented urban renewal projects in Mumbai.
Originally,Bhendi Bazaar formed a part of the inner-city areas developed to cater to the housing needs of manpower aiding trade and commerce activities in the harbour of Old Bombay – as Mumbai was known then. Proximity to the then elite market place ‘Crawford Market’ gave better business prospects for the area. The colloquial pronunciation of Behind the Bazaar (Crawford Market) became Bhendi Bazaar.
Businessmen from various communities like Dawoodi Bohra, Memons, Gujaratis, Sindhis, Parsis, Katchis etc., seeing an opportunity owing to its strategic location, moved into Bhendi bazaar selling things as diverse as hardware and foam, to clothing and antique items. The area was developed in the ‘Chawl’ or dormitory fashion, designed to house migrant labourers who had moved to the city for earning a livelihood. As businesses started flourishing, the traders brought their families and settled in these chawls.
The challenges of the locality in terms of its infrastructure
The neighbourhood spread across 16.5 acres of land comprises 3200 homes, 1250 commercial businesses and 250 dilapidated buildings. Being a 100 years old area with no attention from the government, the standard of living & infrastructure failed to keep pace with the growing population. The buildings which are made up of wood and bricks are now crumbling down due to structural weaknesses.
Over the years, the population has multiplied but there has been no infrastructural development to meet the growing needs of the area thus resulting in socio-economic deterioration. More than 80% of the have been declared unfit for living by state housing board -MHADA. Outdated sanitation and inadequate fire & safety measures leave the population very vulnerable to natural and man-made calamities. Pedestrians face difficulties to walk due to narrow & congested roads with no footpaths.
Besides this, a majority of inhabitants in Bhendi Bazaar are staying as tenants in a cramped up, less than 300sqft area, with a common toilet outside on each floors. Besides this, due to collapsing staircases and absence of lift facilities, senior citizens face a lot of inconvenience.
Crumbling infrastructure, poor maintenance and dying businesses have deteriorated the quality of lives of the people living and working in Bhendi Bazaar.As India’s largest cluster redevelopment to date, the inception of Bhendi Bazaar project has opened avenues for many similar urban renewal projects in Mumbai and in other old cities across the country.
The socio-economic impact of redevelopment project on the residents
For the longest time, Mumbai’s population has burgeoned far beyond the capacity of its infrastructure. Urban development has been uneven, creating pockets of well managed neighborhoods alongside congested and dilapidated areas that lack even basic sanitation and amenities such as water supply, garbage disposal, and fire and safety measures. There is great urban imbalance that needs to be rectified.
The development envisioned by the late Dr. Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (RA) is a philanthropic project that has been meticulously planned to meet the socio-economic and cultural needs of various communities living peacefully in Bhendi Bazaar.
- The inhabitants living as tenants in less than 300 sq. ft. area with no open space and zero amenities will return to a fully developed Bhendi Bazaar as owners to lead an upgraded and uplifted life.
- The area will comprise of wide roads, modern infrastructure, open spaces and a highly visible commercial space. It will also take a step ahead and propel the shopping experience in the form of High Street Shopping.
- This planned development will offer residents& commercial tenants a better life while preserving the religious, cultural and socio-economic spirit that has defined this locality for decades.
- The Project is designed holistically to promote sustainable way of living by providing peoplewith all the necessary amenities which will further result in personal and psychological enhancements.
The infrastructure enhancements planned as part of the redevelopment
The Project that is initiated under Development Control Regulation (DCR) No. 33(9) is divided into nine sub-clusters, each of which will be self-sustaining and independent in terms of services and requirements, with internal connectivity within each cluster.
- Each sub-cluster will have its own sewage treatment plant, rainwater harvesting, and garbage disposal facilities, as well as back-up power generation.
- Solar-powered lights will be used in streets and public areas to minimize the electricity consumption.
- The orientation of buildings rises in height from South to North to maximize air circulation and natural lighting around the buildings.
- Each building consists of G+2 floors for commercial spaces, few floors of parking facilities topped by a podium with several amenities for the residents housed on the top.
- Significantly more space will be available for open areas, green spaces, play and recreational facilities, while the wide roads will allow for the smooth flow of vehicular traffic.
- Currently, the project area has a single tree, but post redevelopment, we will have more than 700 trees and shrubs planted to absorb noise and improve the quality of air.
- Commercials on the other hand have been planned to retain street style shopping with all shops facing the street. The streetscape will be activated through creation of a pedestrian friendly neighbourhood.
- The façade of the buildings will have a marvelous blend of ‘Fatimid Architecture’ styling with modern and functional design features. Arches, jallis and lattice work will weave a distinct identity to the neighbourhood.
The impact on the property market of the district
Bhendi Bazaar is an area that is situated in one of the prime locations of Mumbai. Owing to easy access to railways, ports, healthcare, educational institutions, retail, entertainment and commerce, Bhendi Bazaar has strong connectivity throughout Mumbai. However, due to unfavourable conditions, the area remained neglected and unseen of its prospects. Lack of development in the area resulted in economic downfall.
The urban renewal project aims to create significant developments in the city’s housing stock and also create an overall economic competitiveness of the area. With a state-of-the-art and sustainable infrastructure backed up with high-street shopping experience; the area will be one of the most sought after residential and business localities in the city.
Currently, Phase-I construction work is underway in sub-clusters 1 and 3. We plan to complete this first phase within three years. Simultaneously we are also working on other sub-clusters and aim to complete the entire project in about 8-10 years.