MUMBAI: A look at the changing face of the redevelopment segment in Mumbai suggests that it is the developers’ goodwill that connects better in this segment rather than any clout whatsoever. Analysts maintain that redevelopment is an inevitable reality in the city’s development and its perception is definitely seeing considerable improvement. People have also started realising that it is the only efficient method to transform the city’s graph. Planned redevelopment enables the maintenance of asset values in a land-starved city. The integrated master plan development and dynamic urban governance will help to resolve issues to a large extent.
Developers are taking continuous initiatives to make redevelopment a success by implementing long-term thinking, collaborative planning and flexibility, effective execution and systematic innovation. However, the old-timers recall that things were not the same in the 1980s and the developers have really worked hard to earn the brand value and respectability in this space. During the days when slum redevelopment first started, a perception gained ground that this is the realty space meant for only those who have immense resources at the political level and also muscle power.
This is not so any more. According to Nimish Ajmera, director, Ajmera Realty & Infra Pvt Ltd, there is definitely no need for muscle power if the developer ensures that the best quality product is delivered to tenants looking forward to redevelopment. However, at times, it is difficult to handle certain tenants as they are driven by unprecedented greed and this also affects a large number of members who have agreed, as it leads to delay in redeveloping the project. “Redevelopment in itself is a crucial task to undertake as it includes innumerable approvals from the various government departments and authority. A lack of clarity in government regulations has made matters even more difficult. Long-term policies are not materialising. Speedy approvals and a single window clearance can help developers to take initiatives which would benefit city dwellers at large,” he adds.
Rajesh Vardhan, managing director, Vardhman Group, opines that developers have not been successful in changing the poor perception about redevelopment and there is still a long way to go for changing the perception; only good and fast work by developers will be able to achieve this. “It is not necessary at all for the developers to have muscle power. However, it is a must to have all the resources required for redevelopment and the goodwill of the developers, which will play an important role to get the redevelopment work done. Only in slums, the phenomenon of muscle power is seen for obtaining the consent of the slum dwellers. However, redevelopment projects ultimately do not materialise and hence, only 13 per cent of the proposals have been able to achieve the goal,” explains Vardhan.
Asit Koticha, promoter, Pashmina Developers, blames it on vested interests when he says that the developers have, by and large, been successful in changing the perception, yet, when it comes to redevelopment of slums, it is difficult to convince vested interests, political and otherwise. According to him, the policy per se is very good but the local issues in slum redevelopment have snowballed to such a level that most of the good work done in this segment gets negated. “In slums, it has not changed dramatically even though there is a lot more clarity in this space with the new DCR and the possibility of corporates entering this segment. However, I don’t think muscle power can get everyone on board. The laws are so simplified now that political clout is not required. Yet, local issues are so gigantic that even if majority of the people are willing, developers face many problems in this space,” adds Koticha.
Diipesh Bhagtani, executive director, Jaycee Homes, on the contrary, admits that muscle power is required for self-protection as developers deal with various people with different temperaments and attitudes. According to him, the resources of the developer are very important in the redevelopment process, as it requires a large capital investment at the initial stages itself. To kick start the entire project, depending on the size of the projects, a developer needs to put in all the resources for successful acquisition and completion.
“There are also anti-social elements involved for achieving their own vested interest. Housing is a very sensitive matter and has different emotions attached to it. Also, it is possible for a developer to keep the residents happy monetarily but to keep everyone emotionally happy is not possible, as it is sometimes unreasonable. Hence, a developer needs some protection for himself. People in slums do not understand the policy guidelines as a majority of them are uneducated. A developer first has to educate the benefits of redevelopment to the people residing in these slums and then start the process. Also, there are multiple claimants for a single unit. So, despite facilities and policies, slum redevelopment projects are a big challenge,” says a candid Bhagtani.
Redevelopment has always been challenging and there has been protest regularly, especially in slums. Major protests in any type of redevelopment project is for gains and benefits only and hence, the policy framed for slum redevelopment needs a major revamp to achieve its objective. Challenges in redevelopment and slum redevelopment threaten to be a brand dampener for companies involved in the segment. Yet, with land being scarce, this is the only way forward.
In general, there are around 16000-17000 declared dilapidated buildings, though the unreported and overall figure is even larger. Hence, amidst the challenges, redevelopment is the only way ahead for such buildings. Beyond slums, people have now started realising the importance and benefits of redevelopment. Redevelopment is not only happening for small buildings but also for large societies and cluster of buildings. This has changed the perception of redevelopment and the confidence level has gone up. So, redevelopment today does not have a poor perception but has become a means for a better and richer way of life.