The vast majority of buildings in Mumbai are decades old, rundown and usually kept together by a patchwork of repairs. The Saptarishi society in Borivali was one such complex and until last year, it was on the verge of collapse. Concerned residents decided to redevelop the society and have a bigger and better building come up in its place, but successive negotiations with builders failed and it seemed like they were left with no hope. That is when they decided to take the plunge and redevelop the building themselves. “The builders were unwilling to proceed and the society’s condition was very dilapidated. We thought it made better sense to get a loan by mortgaging the property and go in for self-redevelopment”, says Ajay Dongare, Secretary of the Saptarishi Housing Society. Their efforts paid off and today, they are housed in a brand-new building which is bigger than their former home.
This model of self-redevelopment is fast gaining recognition among housing societies in Mumbai, thanks to the advantages it offers over traditional methods of redevelopment. In opting for self-redevelopment, housing societies can apply for loans to finance the redevelopment of their homes and then, they can appoint an independent contractor to carry out the work to their specifications. This effectively cuts out developers from the process, thereby ensuring that the profits remain within the society and they are able to track the pace of construction closely. Additionally, self-redevelopment means getting extra FSI & TDR without having to give it up for a builder, at least 35-45% of extra area for each society member, the option of being able to sell extra flats to buyers that the society chooses as well as reduced maintenance costs. ”If societies go for self-redevelopment, they will definitely get double the area than what was promised by the developer”, says Ramesh Prabhu, Chairman of the Maharashtra Societies Welfare Association.
Making things easier are professional services and advice being offered by financial institutions to help societies deal with the process of going in for self-redevelopment. “We have setup our own panel, with a chartered accountant, architect and a project management consultant. They personally go to different societies and explain the concept of self-development and the benefits you can get out of it”, says Abhishek Ghosalkar, the director of Mumbai District Central Co-Operative Bank. While the benefits are there for all to see, funding is still a problem. So far, only the Mumbai District Central Co-Operative Bank Funding issues loans for self-redevelopment projects, but other banks are considering the option and may give out such loans in the near future.
While these may be good enough reasons for every society to consider this option, builder lobbies claim the process is not without its own set of risks. “You need to deal with many departments. Not all society members have the necessary expertise or the adequate time to go and approach various agencies and appoint various consultants”, says Sunil Mantri, Chairman of Naredco.
That may be true, but if executed well, self-redevelopment has the potential to radically change the pace of development in Mumbai, where thousands of societies are usually at the mercy of developers who more often than not delay projects, escalate costs and renege on agreed upon terms. The government should take steps to encourage such processes, which can only help solve the city’s massive housing shortage in the long run.
Ashwini Priolker, Reporter, NDTV