Will the project to transform Mumbai’s Bhendi Bazaar into low-cost skyscrapers work?

Posted on | juli 17, 2012 | No Comments

When Bhendi Bazaar was first set up following the Great Bombay Fire of 1803, the British government imagined it as a resettlement that would decongest the nearby Fort area (the city then was largely within the Fort walls, an area today in south Mumbai still referred to as Fort).

Ironically, over the years, Bhendi Bazaar has become one of the most crowded, dingy and rundown of neighbourhoods in an otherwise well-planned south Mumbai. It is a rabbit-warren of shops and dilapidated buildings, with tangles of streets, some so narrow they can only support pedestrian traffic.

In this clutter of chawls and ramshackle tenements, most of which are overdue for demolition, infrastructure improvements have been few and far between. Residents of this unintended urban sprawl joke that it hasn’t seen a tree or a green patch in over a century.

Which is why when the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust (SBUT) said, about a year ago, that it would undertake a massive redevelopment of this neigbourhood, and turn it into a green precinct with 40-storey high-rises, high-street shopping and with the swankest of homes and amenities—all of which would be environment-friendly—the announcement was met with some disbelief.

Some of it had to do with scale, of course. The Rs 2,000 crore project is slated to cover 16.5 acres of one of the most congested parts of the city, and transform about 1,200 businesses, 3,200 homes in 250 buildings and the lives of over 20,000 residents.

Work on the proposed ‘cluster redevelopment’ has already begun, even though the ministry of environment and forests is yet to give the green light. But one thing is clear: if the SBUT completes the redevelopment as planned, and in the designated seven years, it could pave the way for similar (and much-needed) projects in the rest of India.

AUTHOR: Qureish Raghib
E-MAIL: Qhraghib [at] gmail.com


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