The recent Supreme Court order on retaining mandatory open and recreational spaces around proposed buildings in Mumbai has made the tenants of buildings set for redevelopment restless. The court had ruled that a six-metre wide open space skirting all buildings is mandatory and 10-25% of the plot area be kept open to sky.
Following this order, most of the redevelopment projects in South Mumbai, which were set to begin, are stuck and the affected people are the tenants of those buildings which were demolished for the purpose.
Abdulrehman Shaikh, 31, a resident of Byculla, said: “Our three-storey building was declared dangerous and it was demolished six months ago. Our developer was about to get the commencement certificate from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), but now he says that due to the SC order he cannot undertake the project.”
Shaikh said the tenants now face an uncertain future. “The developer is paying the rent for us, but that is not enough. Because of the frequent shifting that we have to do following the rise in rents, we face the difficulty of transferring our children from one school to another. Change in our address has led to government authorities refusing to issue us passports, ration cards and other necessary documents. It is really frustrating and disappointing,” said Shaikh.
Riyaz Ayaz Ahmed, another tenant whose building at Paydhonie was demolished for redevelopment, said: “We are middle-class people. We cannot afford to stay in South Mumbai on rent. If our building does not get developed on time, then we will be on the streets soon. The state government should step in and do something about it.”
Ahmed said his building had 30 tenants and some of them were patients with kidney problems. “They have to travel a long way for dialysis. Frequent changing of residence has been creating problems for all of us,” added Ahmed.
Recently, municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte returned 500 project proposals saying they should be re-submitted as per the new guidelines. That has forced the developers and architects to go back to the drawing board.
South Mumbai Congress MLA Amin Patel told dna that most of the tenants whose buildings were demolished approached him after the SC order. “On the behalf of them, I have decided to file a review petition in the apex court soon. I had approached chief minister Prithviraj Chavan presenting the plight of the tenants and I am confident he would do something about it,” said Patel.
Munaf Watgama, director of Gajdar Group, said the SC order has created a mess. “We do not need to keep six-metre wide passages on all the sides of a building for fire brigade vehicles to manoeuvre during emergency. The most important thing is that a fire engine should comfortably enter the premises; after that the fire personnel can use the staircase to reach the higher floors to douse a fire. As per the SC order, if we keep parking slots at the ground level then where will the children play,” Watgama said.