BDD chawl residents in a bind
The state government’s diktat that those who cannot provide documents to prove that they have been occupying rooms in BDD chawl before the cut-off date of January 1, 1996 is going to render nearly 3,000 residents ineligible for rehabilitation.
The residents are crying foul over this arbitrary cut-off date complaining that the government’s rule has left them in a situation worse than that of slum-dwellers.
However, realising that this arbitrary cut-off date can lead to protracted legal battles and affect the project’s timeline, the state government’s housing department itself has now written to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis that this rule be relaxed.
The British had constructed the Bombay Development Directorate chawls, better known as BDD chawls, at Worli, Naigaon, NM Joshi Marg and Sewri in Central Mumbai in the 1920s as a low-cost housing project. Spread over 91 acres and comprising 207 three-storey buildings, there are more than 16,557 flats, each measuring around 180 sq ft. The ambitious redevelopment project is pegged at Rs 16,000 crore.
After rehabilitation of existing residents in 500 sq ft flats, the nodal agency for the project, MHADA, will get to build around 13,000 affordable houses. While projects at Naigaon and NM Joshi Marg have already been bid out, the tendering process for the project at Worli is underway. While L&T has bagged the contract to develop Naigaon project, Shapoorji Pallonji have won the project at NM Joshi.
As Sewri chawl is located on the Mumbai Port Trust land, separate redevelopment policy will be brought in for them in consultation with the port trust. Sunit Waghmare, former ward committee councillor and member of All BDD Chawl Residents’ Federation said, “We have been constantly asking the state government how they arrived at this cut-off date. But they have not given us any logic or rationale to us so far. If MHADA is reconsidering its decision, it’s a welcome step, but we will believe it only after an official notification is issued by the government.”
Chandrashekhar Prabhu, town planning and housing rights expert, said, “The Tenancy Act clearly states that if a tenant transfers his tenancy rights to some other person, the owner can accept this transfer for certain consideration, and in the case of BDD chawls, the state government has accepted the consideration from tenants to recognise transfer of tenancy rights. So now the government can’t refuse the tenants who have come after 1996 to have homes in redevelopment projects.”
The state government’s public works department (PWD), which is the owner of these chawls, has accepted Rs 10,000 each from tenants to transfer tenancy rights after going through the due process such issuing apublic notice, giving hearing to original tenant, his or her heirs and buyer of tenancy rights.