The Hindu

Zainab Udaipurwala aged 25 is excited to move into Bhendi Bazaar soon. She says her plush new two-bedroom house on the 29th floor has a panoramic view of the city. ‘I have a view of the sea too,’ says Ms Udaipurwala, who will be among the first residents of Al-Saʿāda, a two-wing tower in the city’s biggest cluster redevelopment project being implemented by the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust (SBUT).

Al-Saʿāda, the first building in the project’s first phase to near completion, will have 41-storey and 36-storey wings and house 614 families and 120 shops. While 80 shop owners have already moved in, the residents will begin shifting in two months.

‘Now, the toilet will be inside our house. My three-year-old son will also have plenty of play area in the open space the tower will provide,’ says Ms Udaipurwala. Her house in the decrepit Taiyabi Mohammadi Manzil in Bhendi Bazaar had common toilets, water shortage and lack of open space. ‘It’s like we have got a lifestyle upgrade. At the same time, we also get to stay rooted in Bhendi Bazaar.’

The ₹4,000-crore project was envisioned by the late Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA, the 52nd spiritual leader of the Dawoodi Bohra community. The project involves rehabilitating 3,200 families and 1,250 shopkeepers in 17 plush towers. The ground, first and second floors of Al-Saʿāda have commercial shops and the flats start from the ninth floor.

‘My shop now has a much better display. I can welcome retail customers and not just focus on wholesale,’ says 60 year old Hasnain Changi, who is a wholesale dealer in genuine leather goods. From a shop on the ground floor of Fatima Manzil, which was demolished five years ago, Mr Changi now works from the first floor of Al-Saʿāda. ‘I am not dependent on walk in customers so much. But with better interiors and display, I have the added advantage of attracting the walk in customers too.’

However, not all shopkeepers are happy about being accommodated on the first and second floors. ‘I have lost all my walk in customers. The business has taken a hit,’ says Hasmukh Darji, who stitches curtains and mattress covers. From a 28 sq.ft. shop, Mr Darji has been upgraded to a 32 sq. ft. shop, but it is on the second floor. ‘This project is too big. I just accepted what I was given without protesting.’

Another shopkeeper, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the mall like appearance has destroyed the essence of the bazaar.

Of the 250 dilapidated buildings covered by the project, over 160 have been demolished and more than 20 are being razed. Out of the 3,200 families, nearly 400 are yet to vacate their premises. ‘We are in constant engagement with the remaining tenants to understand their grievances and convince them to move out of their dilapidated buildings before the monsoon,’ says SBUT official Yusuf London.