Friday, October 4, 2013

Residents of Kannamwar Nagar face daily risk to life & limb as redevelopment has been stalled for the last 8 years

The redevelopment work of the 13 MHADA buildings in Kannamwar Nagar No 1, at Vikhroli East, has been delayed for the last 8 years and there are no signs that the work will get taken up any time soon.

The MHADA had set up this colony way back in 1964, and today, all the buildings are in a badly dilapidated state, with the 2,500 souls residing in the 416 flats living at terrible risk to their lives. Cracks have developed in the walls and plants and saplings have taken root wherever there is seepage of water. The area sees all type of reptiles including snakes, while lizards and cockroaches abound.

In August 2005, the flat owners handed over the job of redevelopment to the Kannamwar Nagar Utsav Samiti, which was earlier looking after holding of Ganesh festival celebrations, Janmashtami, etc. The Utsav Samiti in turn entrusted the work to a Ghatkopar-based developer, Excel Arcade Private Limited.

The developer demolished five buildings, nos.30, 31, 34, 39 and 41 and constructed only one building with three wings to accommodate 84 flat owners. The occupants were given flats admeasuring 300 square feet, but no occupation certificates or any official documents were given to them.

Besides, only one cooperative society was formed of all the 13 buildings, although it was imperative to form separate societies for each one, said one of the resident, adding that in the course of last 8 years at least 32 residents of Kannamwar Nagar have expired, without achieving their dream of owning their home there.

To seek justice, the residents have formed Kannamwar Nagar Sangharsh Samiti, comprising of Sunil Tikone, Suresh Sarnobat, Vishwnath Borkar, Samir Gavankar and Mahendra Bhogate, and some of the members recently undertook a two-day hunger fast to highlight their grievances.

The developer, Virendra Vora, who paid visit to the area during the fast agitation, promised the residents that he would do his best to give them new dwellings, while pointing out that CRZ regulations were coming in way of the development. He also complained that as residents were not vacating their flats, it had become difficult to construct new buildings.

He then shocked the residents by telling them that he had already sold off the project to HDIL and further decisions would have to be taken only in consultation with HDIL. He candidly admitted that he had given up construction work and was now engaged in the import-export business.

Revealing that a new architect has been appointed to prepare the new lay out for redevelopment, he informed residents that rent for 3 months would be given immediately to those whose buildings have been demolished. However, residents then pointed out that the rent (Rs.10,000 pm) for the last seven months was pending which should be cleared immediately, and further rent should be paid in full in advance and not in installments.

They also objected to the project being handed over to the HDIL saying that their original agreement for redevelopment was with Excel and not HDIL.

Besides, they pointed out that issues like CRZ should have been settled before he agreed to undertake the redevelopment work. The residents also demanded that the Samiti formed in 2005 be abolished and a fresh committee be formed to oversee the redevelopment work. However the developer said that this issue should be resolved by the residents internally.

HDIL did not respond to telephone calls as well as email requests for their inputs. In view of all these issues, the speedier redevelopment of Kannamwar Nagar seems to be a distant dream,  unless action is taken under the recently constituted Housing Regulatory Authority (HRA) and Housing Appellate Tribunal (HAT) by the Government.

When this matter was brought to the notice of Satish Gavai, Vice President, MHADA, he said that if the residents have already obtained an NOC for redevelopment, nothing can be done now. If the redevelopment has been started in contravention of MHADA regulations, even now MHADA can intervene if the residents approach it.

Kannamwar Nagar has more than 300 MHADA buildings, and covers famous gardens like Ravindranath Tagore Garden, Circle, Trikoni Garden, etc.
Vikhroli is typically a middle-class and peaceful suburb of Mumbai, and Kannamwar Nagar is a locality situated in Vikhroli East, on the Eastern Express Highway, to the east of Vikhroli railway station. It is considered to be one of the biggest housing colonies in India and one of the biggest workers’ housing colonies in Asia. A proposal for a bridge had been made, to be built over the Thane Creek from Kannamwar Nagar, off the Eastern Express Highway to Kopar Khairane in Navi Mumbai, providing a much needed third bridge linking Mumbai and Navi Mumbai.