An­gry LIG Vot­ers re­ject govern­ment’s “GAME CHANGER” pol­icy on re­de­vel­op­ment of Mhada Build­ings.

Accommodation Times - - Front Page - By Jayshree

Out of sheer anger and hope­less­ness U. Bhan­dari, a small­time con­trac­tor and a staunch Congress party sup­porter, cast his vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party at the gen­eral elec­tions. His wife and aged mother fol­lowed suit.

Bhan­dari’s change in loy­alty to a party who he has been con­sis­tently favour­ing over the years has noth­ing to do with the Naren­dra Modi wave that swept the 2014 polls.

What pro­voked him is a dis­crim­i­na­tory pol­icy against the re­de­vel­op­ment of MHADA (Ma­ha­rash­tra Hous­ing Area De­vel­op­ment Author­ity) colonies in the city that evoked ire and frus­tra­tion against the rul­ing Congress-NCP com­bine govern­ment in Ma­ha­rash­tra state.

“This govern­ment has been ex­tremely par­tial. It has dis­crim­i­nated be­tween two groups re­sid­ing in the same MHADA lay­out,” said Bhan­dari, who lives with his fam­ily in a colony in Gand­hi­na­gar, Ban­dra (east).

Be­tween the two groups MIG (Mid­dle In­come Group) and LIG (Lower In­come Groups), the for­mer en­joyed ben­e­fits of hav­ing an ex­tra 2.5 FSI (Floor Space In­dex) with pre­mium, while the lat­ter had none. In the ear­lier pol­icy, an LIG res­i­dent would have got an area ad­mea­sur­ing be­tween 484 and 600 sq. ft. The changed pol­icy gives res­i­dents a lesser area of around 300 sq. ft. al­most the same area they have been oc­cu­py­ing for more than sixty years!

When Prithvi­raj Chauhan took over the reins of be­ing the Chief Min­is­ter of Ma­ha­rash­tra in 2010, he re­voked an ear­lier pol­icy ini­ti­ated by the late chief min­is­ter Vi­las­rao Desh­mukh and con­tin­ued by his suc­ces­sor for­mer chief min­is­ter Ashok Cha­van. Desh­mukh’s pol­icy, shaped af­ter much thought and de­lib­er­a­tions tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion in­ter­ests of all stake­hold­ers, al­lowed so­ci­eties go­ing for re­de­vel­op­ment to avail a ben­e­fit by pay­ing a pre­mium for the ex­tra FSI.

Most MIG build­ings took ad­van­tage of this pol­icy, which was ap­pli­ca­ble to 52 MHADA colonies in the city hous­ing sev­eral lakhs of vot­ers. LIG build­ings, how­ever, could not avail of the op­por­tu­nity since by the time the so­ci­eties could start with the process of de­vel­op­ment, the new Chief Min­is­ter, Chauhan took charge.

It is a well-known fact that on per­sua­sion by some mem­bers of the MHADA Board that Chauhan came up with the new pol­icy to de­mand flats from the newly con­structed build­ing in lieu of ex­tra FSI and to stop the pre­mium op­tion in or­der to in­crease the hous­ing stock in MHADA colonies.

This pro­posal did not go down well with de­vel­op­ers or with LIG build­ings that re­jected it out­right ex­plain­ing that the pol­icy was un­vi­able. Af­ter wait­ing for nearly two years and fail­ing to get any re­sponse, the govern­ment in­creased the FSI to 3 call­ing it a ‘game changer’. It is more than a year now since the change of pol­icy, and yet, there are no tak­ers. In­stead, it has pro­voked in­tense op­po­si­tion from LIG res­i­dents. As a re­sult, the en­tire re­de­vel­op­ment process of LIG build­ings has come to a stand­still.

Bhan­dari says that he feels frus­trated and cheated see­ing glitzy tow­ers come up in place of old MIG build­ings, whereas old LIG build­ings stand in de­crepit con­di­tions. Liv­ing in de­cay­ing struc­tures adds to their woes of hav­ing to cope with leak­age prob­lems, old wiring lines and cracked walls

“It costs a lot to re­pair the

build­ing. We try to fix the prob- lem tem­po­rar­ily,” said Shub­hangi Desh­pande, a se­nior cit­i­zen re­sid­ing in a LIG build­ing. Desh­pande has been re­sid­ing in the colony since the in­cep­tion of MIG and LIG build­ings in 1960s.

To­day she is pained to see neigh­bour­ing MIG build­ings turn into posh high-rises in front of her eyes, while she is still liv­ing in de­pri­va­tion in an old run­down LIG struc­ture, which is in dire need of re­pairs. The sad truth is that she will con­tinue to re­main in this con­di­tion be­cause no builder finds the new pol­icy eco­nom­i­cally vi­able to take up its re­de­vel­op­ment.

She has pinned all hopes on the next new govern­ment to fix the prob­lem.

An­other res­i­dent, Mrs. Madi­wal says that by cap­ping the area around 300 sq. ft. it ap­pears that the Chief Min­is­ter wants to con­demn a per­son be­long­ing to the LIG cat­e­gory into a cramped ten­e­ment.

She has been liv­ing in the place since six decades. More­over, over the years her fam­ily has out­grown in size with sons, their wives and grand chil­dren all con­fined into a small liv­ing area.

Like Bhan­dari and Desh­pande, lakhs of vot­ers up­set with the present govern­ment’s com­plex pol­icy to­wards re­de­vel­op­ment of old and di­lap­i­dated build­ings had put up hoard­ings in sev­eral MHADA build­ings across the city to vent their anger against the reign­ing govern­ment.

They have de­cided to ex­press their anger, once again, by putting up sim­i­lar hoard­ings against the govern­ment in the forth­com­ing state as­sem­bly elec­tions ex­pected in five months from now.

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