Mumbai: Fourteen years after it first initiated the redevelopment of Patra Chawl in Mumbai’s Goregaon — a project that was mired in controversies and eventually stalled — Maharashtra’s housing authority is finally in the process of completing the work.
Last month, the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) called for bids to complete pending work on the buildings on its share of the plot. The houses built on MHADA’s share of the land will add to the city’s low-cost housing stock.
MHADA has also started constructing buildings for the rehabilitation of 672 Patra Chawl residents.
“The buildings on the MHADA portion of the land are partially ready. We have called for bids to complete the work and check their structural stability,” Yogesh Mhase, chief officer of MHADA’s Mumbai board, told ThePrint.
“We have also started completing the buildings in which Patra Chawl residents will be given permanent homes. These should be ready in stages over the next two years,” he added.
The Patra Chawl project got embroiled in a political controversy when the Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested Shiv Sena leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut for alleged money laundering in connection with the redevelopment project on 1 August.
MHADA had initiated the project in 2008 and given the contract to Guru Ashish Construction Private Limited, a subsidiary of real estate firm Housing Development Infrastructure Limited (HDIL).
The company was supposed to redevelop the 47-acre plot across which the chawl was spread, rehabilitate 672 families, create low-cost housing stock to be handed over to MHADA on a portion of the plot, and sell the remaining area.
The developer, however, dragged its feet on the project and allegedly stopped paying rent to the 672 families by 2014-15. MHADA eventually issued a termination notice to the developer in 2018.
The project has been under the scanner of the ED, which has been probing HDIL and has alleged that Pravin Raut, Sanjay Raut’s close aide, along with other associates of Guru Ashish Constructions, sold the additional Floor Space Index (FSI) to private developers without constructing either the rehabilitation portion or MHADA’s share of flats.
The ED in its charge sheet filed earlier this month has claimed that Sanjay Raut was involved in the Patra Chawl project right since its inception and Pravin Raut was his proxy.
‘MHADA share of flats sold in lottery, but never completed’
A chawl is a large tenement meant to provide cheap housing.
MHADA was to get 306 apartments from the Patra Chawl project to sell as low-cost housing. Mhase told ThePrint that MHADA had sold these houses in its annual lottery in 2017-18 itself, but the controversies surrounding the project meant that the construction was never completed.
The housing authority has issued a tender to complete the work remaining on the four buildings that hold these 306 apartments, as well as restore the buildings and check for their structural stability. The total cost, excluding taxes, is pegged at Rs 38.91 crore, and the contractor picked for the task will be expected to complete it in 30 months, according to information from MHADA.
The previous Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, comprising the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), and the Congress, had appointed a one-member committee under Johnny Joseph, a retired chief secretary, to recommend plans to complete the rehabilitation of the 672 Patra Chawl residents.
According to the committee’s recommendation, the MVA government had formed a new plan to complete the project under MHADA and held an inauguration ceremony in February this year. Mhase said work on the rehabilitation component has started.
Still a long wait for some
Meanwhile, irked by the delay and burdened by stiff housing loan installments and monthly rent, nearly 1,700 buyers of the saleable portion of the project also staged a protest outside MHADA’s headquarters in Bandra East last week, seeking immediate possession of their flats.
MHADA has not granted an occupation certificate to the buildings on the saleable portion of the project because they were built without first handing over the rehabilitation component and the authority’s share of houses, an official from MHADA, who didn’t want to be named, told ThePrint.
“The entire development is outside of the contract with MHADA. We have to first fix the liability due to us from the developer, for which the state government has formed a technical committee,” he added.
(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)