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Congested Bhendi Bazaar in Mumbai gets a new spanking look

Source: PTI
Last updated on: March 09, 2020 12:44 IST

After many failed attempts over the past decade, Bhendi Bazaar, one of the most underdeveloped and busiest business-cum-residential districts in Mumbai city, is taking a big leap into the future in what's said to be the nation's largest cluster redevelopment project. 

IMAGE: Workers silhouetted against the setting sun on the terrace of Al-Saadah tower in Bhendi Bazaar, Mumbai. After many failed attempts over the past decade, Bhendi Bazaar, one of the most underdeveloped and busiest business-cum-residential districts of the city, is taking a big leap into the future in what is said to be the nation’s largest cluster redevelopment project. Apart from the houses, the residents have been provided with gardens, kid’s playground and various other amenities like a prayer room, multi-purpose hall, activity rooms, and separate gymnasium rooms for both men and women. Photograph: Kunal Patil / PTI Photo.

The 125-year-old neighbourhood spanning 16.5-acres, not very far from the iconic Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, is already home to two newly-developed towers of 36 and 41-floors which have opened up a new world of modern living for the families there. 

Around 610 of the over 3,200 families and 128 of the over 1,250 businesses have moved into the new buildings -- all for free. 

IMAGE: Sheikh Nooruddin and his wife Fakhruddin Poonawala look out of the window of their new apartment in Al-Saadah Towers at Bhendi Bazaar in Mumbai. Photograph: Kunal Patil / PTI Photo.

The families, which were living in 80-sq ft dilapidated homes, are moving into 350 sq ft modern apartments now. 

 

This is the country's largest and one of the most ambitious cluster redevelopment programmes till date. It is being fully funded by the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust, established by the late Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, the former spiritual head of the Bohri Muslim community who are the vast majority of the residents and tenants of the area. 

IMAGE: A view of Al-Saadah Towers at Bhendi Bazaar in Mumbai. Photograph: Kunal Patil / PTI Photo.

These two towers have come up on the plot where 13 dilapidated buildings stood and form part of the 13 towers which will be developed at the site. 

"The new neighbourhood will meet the present and future socioeconomic needs of diverse communities living and working in the area," Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust Secretary Abdeali Bhanpurawala said. 

IMAGE: Children ride a roundabout in the play area of Al-Saadah Towers at Bhendi Bazaar in Mumbai. Photograph: Kunal Patil / PTI Photo.

The redevelopment extends over 16.5 acres of land with more than 250 decrepit buildings, 3,200 families and 1,250 shops, all of which will be incorporated into a state-of-the-art sustainable development model with wider roads, modern infrastructure, ample open spaces and highly visible commercial areas. 

The state government planned to redevelop the area almost a decade ago but the work was marred by slow pace. 

IMAGE: A child shares a ride with his grandmother a swing in the play area of Al-Saadah Towers at Bhendi Bazaar in Mumbai. Photograph: Kunal Patil / PTI Photo.

The project involves razing down 250 mostly dilapidated medium-rise structures and building 13 high-rise towers in their place. These towers will house the existing commercial and residential tenants, who will be given ownership of their new apartments. 

The project aims to add greenery, public spaces and glitzy shopping options to the 125-year-old market district, a holdover from the colonial days. 

IMAGE: Dawoodi Bohra Muslim women in the corridor of Al-Saadah Towers at Bhendi Bazaar in Mumbai. Photograph: Kunal Patil / PTI Photo.

Originally built to accommodate migrant labourers working in the harbour, more recently Bhendi Bazaar has attracted low-income families, drawn by State-controlled rents that have been frozen for decades. 

This ambitious project is the brainchild of the late Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, who in 2009 made the drastic proposal to demolish the 16.5-acre district, with the exception of its holy sites, and build anew. 

In a city where property prices are sky-high and challenges arising from land constraints are an everyday occurrence, it seemed an ambitious undertaking, but the proposal got the backing of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who made it a flagship smart city project in July 2015. 

IMAGE: An aerial view of the city as seen from Al-Saadah Towers at Bhendi Bazaar in Mumbai. Photograph: Kunal Patil / PTI Photo.

The two towers which are already completed and where 610 families have moved in have been designed to include a recreational area with gardens and a kids' playground and various other amenities like prayer room, multi-purpose hall, activity rooms, and separate gymnasium rooms for both women and men. 

The commercial spaces are housed on the ground, first and second floors with street-facing frontages.

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