Nowroz Baug Bombay Parsi Punchayet

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Nowroz Baug Bombay Parsi PunchayetWadias, Hafiz Contractor and Bombay Parsi Punchayet offer 20% extra space but residents won’t settle for anything less than 35%.
A year after grand plans to redevelop Nowroz Baug, a Parsi colony in Lalbaug, were announced by industrialists Nusli and Ness Wadia and noted architect Hafeez Contractor, the project has been shelved.Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP), which owns the colony, claims the project is not taking off due to ‘unreasonable’ demands from the tenants. Nowroz Baug residents, on the other hand, say developers and the BPP were not offering them agood deal in the redeveloped colony.

Plans to redevelop Nowroz Baug were announced in March 2013 when the Wadias, Contractor and BPP trustees held a meeting with colony residents. The plan covered redeveloping the colony, spread over 5.5 acres and home to 358 tenants, to comprise four 40-storey towers. The residents were offered 20-25 per cent of additional space.

Dinshaw Mehta, chairman, BBP, said, “We have stalled the project as the tenants were making unreasonable demands in terms of area. As per the plan, tenants were offered 20 per cent more space in the redeveloped colony, but they are demanding 50 per cent more space which is not feasible.”

Nariman Mehta, a resident of Nowroz Bag and president, Nowroz Baug play centre, said after the meeting in March 2013, BPP was supposed to get back to the residents for their opinion.

“Some were satisfied with the area offered while some tenants wanted more, but BPP never reverted to us for our opinion,” said Mehta, adding that the residents had written several times to the BPP and had even arranged for a meeting but didn’t get an update.

“We learnt through sources that the calculation made for the project was incorrect and that BPP would incur losses of Rs 250 crore if they go ahead with the plan. For now, it seems the project has been shelved,” he said.

Sources in the colony revealed that after the presentation was made in March 2013, most residents wanted at least 50 per cent additional area. Over the next few weeks, residents held meetings among themselves and the demand was brought down to 35 per cent.

“Internally, we reached a consensus that the developers would have to offer us the fungible FSI that they get after redevelopment, which stands at 35 per cent. Most familes had balconies and passges of around 125 sq ft attached to their houses. Those would have to be given as well,” said a Nowroz Bag resident, who attended the internal meetings.

When the residents put the proposal before the BPP, the latter replied that additional area of more than 20 per cent would make the project unviable.

As per plans, apart from constructing houses for existing tenants, the developers were to build around 600 additional houses for sale, exclusively to members of the Parsi community, to recover the project cost. With tenants demanding more area, the number of sale units came down drastically.

Other than commercial unviability, another factor stalling the redevlopment is a stay order from the Charity Commissioner after some trustees approached the authority alleging irregularities.

Community members also said their dwindling population raised fears in the BPP that there may not be enough takers for the flats. “They had plans to sell over 600 flats at Rs 1 crore or more each, but given the reducing Parsi population, finding buyers may get tough and that could be the reason why nothing has moved ahead,” said Jehangir Patel, editor of Parsiana, a community magazine which had first reported the ambitious redevelopment project.

The most recent BPP figures show births among Parsis have fallen by over 13 per cent from 201 in 2012 to 174 in 2013. As per the 2001 Census, Mumbai is home to only 46,557 Parsis.

Mehta, however, rubbished these claims. “There are more than enough Parsis residing in private buildings. That has never been our worry,” he said.

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