Mumbai Mirror

The government has approved the cluster redevelopment of Kamathipura, the city’s former red light district, paving the way for the long delayed project.

At a review meeting on Tuesday, Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad instructed the Mumbai Building Repairs and Reconstruction Board (MBRRB) to conduct a survey of old buildings in the area and prepare a plan on the lines of the cluster redevelopment undertaken by the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust in Bhendi Bazar.

In 2016, the MBRRB had expressed interest to undertake cluster redevelopment of Kamathipura. A senior Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority official said that without a cluster model, redevelopment of individual buildings would not be possible.

Awhad has asked MHADA to carry out a biometric survey of the residents as part of the government’s attempt to push the redevelopment of the area.

The redevelopment of Kamathipura was on the agenda of past governments as well, but just like plans for Dharavi slums, it never saw the light of day. Kamathipura is spread over 39 acres and 16 lanes and has around 800 plots. Most of these buildings are in dilapidated condition and in dire need of redevelopment. The area has around 500 landlords and 8,000 tenants.

MHADA officials had told Awhad that redeveloping individual structures would pose a big challenge as residents are currently living in small houses measuring just 50 to 180 square feet.

Local Congress legislator Amin Patel said this was a long pending issue. ‘Since the real estate market is slow, there is poor response from builders. We have been pushing for its redevelopment for the last seven years. We have already formed an association of landlords. Almost all landlords are now ready for redevelopment and we have devised a formula for the size of tenants’ rehabilitation units,’ Patel said.

MHADA can either develop the area on its own or act as the nodal agency, he said. ‘We welcome the move to redevelop Kamathipura under cluster redevelopment on the lines of SBUT. The tenants and landlords are open to all options as long as they get their dues,’ Patel said. ‘This can be redeveloped as a prime residential and commercial

space since it is in the heart of the city and is just a short walk from Mumbai Central station. MHADA must take up this project on priority. Civic amenities must also be part of the redevelopment project.’

The SBUT project in the heart of the city involves the cluster redevelopment of 280 buildings spread across 16.5 acres of Bhendi Bazaar, in South Mumbai. The project, announced in 2008 by the then Syedna of the Bohra community, has seen several hurdles, with landlords refusing to sell and residents, especially from the Muslim community, unwilling to move out. So far the trust has been able to complete construction of two of the 13 proposed buildings situated in Cluster 3 of the project.

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