The reason? It is located in the vicinity of the Mumbai airport, but, more importantly, it stands in the shadow of aircraft heading to or leaving the shorter runway of the Mumbai airport.
Height restrictions imposed by the Airports Authority of India for the safety of aircraft that overfly such buildings have adversely impacted their redevelopment prospects.
“Builders usually demolish a structure to construct a taller building and sell the extra flats, which can’t be done here due to height restrictions,” says architect Shrikrishna Shevade, who has been pushing for reforms that would allow these buildings to be redeveloped.
About 3.6 lakh residents live in 6,000-odd buildings in Vile Parle, Santacruz, Kurla and Ghatkopar that are within the 5km radius from the Mumbai airport and fall under its four flight paths, Shevade said. Last September, the BMC sent a letter to the state urban development department about the need for a separate regulation for redevelopment of such buildings.
The solution proposed that builders who take up reconstruction of such buildings be allowed transfer of development rights (TDR) to recover cost of construction, loss of profit etc. Praveen Pardeshi, additional chief secretary, urban development, who took charge two months ago, said that he will be looking into the matter this week.
But until then, residents of buildings like Prabhu Niwas are left with no option. Kurla corporator Ashraf Azmi said there are about 20-22 dilapidated buildings in L-ward, of which quite a few fall under the flight path and can’t be redeveloped. Some buildings have been issued eviction, demolition notices, in others water and power supply cut, residents have moved out, he said.
Vasant Gala, a Prabhu Niwas resident for close to four decades, said: “We pay taxes on time, abide by government rules and yet today, we are on the verge of being homeless.” The case of 18 families of this building is more complicated as they are all tenants, paying rents frozen under the “pagadi” system. In the neighbourhood are newly redeveloped buildings and those under reconstruction as they don’t fall under the flight path. Had they lived in one of those, a builder would have taken up the redevelopment project, paid them for temporary stay and handed over a bigger flat to them with a corpus fund.
For now, the Galas are looking for rented accommodation in Goregaon. “There is a senior citizen couple in our building and five kids from nearby schools. Since we’re all tenants, our concerns are more serious than others who live in such buildings,” he says.