Redevelopment stops, 500 Dadar families lose roof and rent
In the heart of Dadar families , the bastion of ‘Marathi Manoos’, a human tragedy is silently unfolding. An estimated 500 families, mainly middle and lower income Maharashtrian tenants, are languishing after builders, redeveloping their properties, stopped paying rents for their alternative accommodations. Developers have been unable to complete the projects, and worse, residents are now stranded because their buildings were demolished several years ago.
At least three of these redevelopment projects are within a couple of hundred metres of each other in Dadar (west)–one of the major ones right next to Sena Bhavan.
Last year, an 80-year-old woman, Prabha Anande, wrote a heart-rending letter to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis about her plight. She is one of the over 160 tenants of Chapra building near Dadar’s Plaza cinema, who have been stranded since almost a decade after work stopped on their project.
“Over 120 families are virtually on the road. Work has stalled and it seems unlikely to start. How long should a senior citizen like me wait for justice?” she said. The octogenarian received no reply .
Local Congress leader Rajan Bhosale said around 500 tenants in the area are suffering after builders stopped paying rents–up to Rs 30,000 a month per family. “In the case of Chapra building, the builder is in jail because of a cheating case in another project,” he said. Bhosale alleged that many of these “fly-by-night” builders are either fronting for local political leaders or are linked to political parties. “This tragedy has been swept under the carpet because nobody wants to talk about it,” he said.
These cases highlight the serious perils of redevelopment in Mumbai. Housing experts say residents get taken in by sops offered by builders–larger flats in new buildings and perhaps, some additional money too. But once the developer backtracks, there is not much a resident can do, except succumb to the blackmail.
Old Siddhapura tenements comprised eight old buildings consisting of 170 tenants near Dadar’s landmark Sena Bhavan. Some of these buildings were damaged when a bomb went off at a petrol pump in March 1993.
“From March 2015, the developer Richa India Infra Development stopped paying rent. We have to fend for ourselves now,” a group of residents told TOI. Their buildings were razed three years ago, but the plot lies vacant since then.
Umesh Kambli, vice-president, Richa India Infra, said, “We are in financial trouble because of issues beyond our control. The company will sort them out soon. The proposed metro line was passing through the plot. Earlier, the heritage regulations in the Dadar precinct stalled work before the restriction was lifted.”
The developer also claimed that change in the development control rules forced them to change building plans. “We are still awaiting commencement certificate (CC) even though tenants were vacated in 2012 and the buildings were demolished totally by July 2013. We have already paid more than Rs 20 crore by way of rent accommodation charges in respect of 172 tenements,” the developer informed tenants recently .
“Rent is increasing day by day .Thus, we were restrained from purchasing fungible FSI from January 2012 up to May 2015 by above referred various factors which were mostly attributable to the state go vernment and to some extent, the BMC. Whatever it may be, we are the ultimate sufferers of this inordinate delay , not attributable to us,” said the developer.
Over 160 tenants of Chapra building in the neighbourhood are in abind, as one of the developers is in jail in a cheating case filed by the economic offences wing. “Work stopped in 2011and the builder stopped paying rent three years ago,” said a tenant. Another resident Sreekant Vaidya said he shifted to Chembur after the rent stopped because he could not afford to live in Dadar. “More than 30 tenants have died since the project commenced a decade ago,” he said.
Local Shiv Sena MLA Sada Sarvankar said, “It is true that 6-7 projects are stuck since past few years and tenants are not receiving rent from builders. I wrote to the chief minister, saying the government prevent the developer from selling the sale component flats unless the original tenants are rehoused.”
Sarvankar said it was “unfortunate” that most of the builders are Marathi. “If this continues, Marathi people will run away from Marathi developers.”