The buildings of chawls vary between being one-storied to five-storied, and the shared sanitary facilities include mainly lavatories and sometimes bath and washing.
Mumbai chawls: This Sunday, the Maharashtra government held the Bhoomi Pujan for the redevelopment of chawls in Mumbai. The redevelopment of these chawls, located in central Mumbai, comes under the Bombay Development Department (BDD) and it has already been quite delayed, according to a report in IE. Chawls are groups of dwelling units – usually having one room or two – built along a corridor and these dwelling units share sanitary facilities. These are called chawls because ‘chawl’ or ‘chaal’ is the Marathi word for passage or corridor. The buildings of chawls vary between being one-storied to five-storied, and the shared sanitary facilities include mainly lavatories and sometimes bath and washing, usually shared between either residents of one floor, or even the entire building at times.
The British government had in 1920 established the BDD, with a mandate of providing more land for housing and construction of tenements, the report said. The body thus began the construction of these chawls, with single-room units having an area of 150 sq ft in which migrant workers employed with the mills and docks largely lived. At present, Mumbai has 195 BDD chawls at Worli, Parel (N M Joshi) and Naigaon, and these collectively spread across 86.98 acres. The maximum of this area is occupied by the dwellings at Worli – 59.69 acres, and the dwellings in this area house about 12,000 families. Worli has 121 chawls out of 195.
Residents of these chawls have long been demanding redevelopment of these chawls since they are in a precarious situation with occupants being unsafe due to the run-down structures. Back in 2017, the state government began a redevelopment project worth Rs 16,000 crore to give the tenants of 160 sq ft flats, houses having an area of 500 sq ft, and for this, the first Bhumi Pujan had been conducted in April 2017. As per the plan, 68% of the land would be used to rehabilitate the original tenants of these chawls, while the private builders would get the rest so that they could build flats for sale on the open market as part of the funding of the project.
There were, however, several constraints regarding the planning and the physical aspects of the project, due to which the project was stuck, like the transfer of ownership without required permissions and reluctance of original residents to move out. This led to the originally awarded contract to lapse.
Now, the project is being constructed by the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) which has been appointed as the nodal agency for this project under the new government. The Worli phase of the project would be undertaken by Tata Projects and Capacite Infraprojects, and it has an expected completion time of three years for the construction of a 40-storey building for housing the residents. Work is likely to follow at other locations in due time.