The game has changed . A new narrative has begun. Now Adani Realty is in BKC’ says the slogan on the wall of the upcoming high rise Adani building. The irony is that it is right opposite the building of MHADA, Maharashtra housing and area development authority in Bandra east in Mumbai.It is an affront to the whole concept of affordable housing with which MHADA was created. With all its shortcomings, there is no doubt that MHADA and its former self Maharashtra housing board has created some well planned housing colonies with lot of open spaces and thousands of houses all over Mumbai and in some other cities.
The Adani and other properties are coming up on MHADA land on which stood the MIG middle income group colony of the housing authority in Bandra east. This was a pleasant area once, a few good areas in the vicinity still remain but they all face the onslaught of arrogant Capital in the coming days.
The Adani property is next to a row of newly come up Rustomjee buildings and tower well above them. One thought the Rustomjee buildings were a bit monotonous with their glass and steel façade but they at least have balconies and look much better than the Adani building which seems to have a very dull street frontage.
A few MIG buildings of MHADA still stand, they are so friendly in comparison, four storey structures with two flats on each floor.
It is also an irony that the Adani high rise is coming in Gandhi Nagar and a road named after Nanasaheb Dharmadhikari, a religious preacher, who was decorated with the Maharashtra Bhooshan award by the Maharashtra government and a similar award was announced a couple of days ago to his son Appasaheb also a discourse giver. So the government bows to Capital and religion with equal fervour.
The transformation of this area is also an affront to the creative class living on a parallel road with housing colonies of artists, Kala Nagar, writers, Sahitya Sahawas, journalists, Patrakar Nagar, and architects.
These little Nagars are now sandwiched between the Bandra Kurla corporate complex on the one side and Adani like structures on the other , completely dwarfed by them.
Much of this area with the housing board colonies and state government housing quarters has come up post 1960 with the formation of Maharashtra state. The housing board in the early days was in barracks in the Azad Maidan ,Mantralaya areas. The traffic police and languages department were also in the barracks opposite Mantralaya.
MMRDA, Mumbai metropolitan regional development authority, was a relatively minor body till about thirty yeas ago , its office located in one floor of the MHADA building I often visited. But it had and still has a decent library, unlike other government bodies which seem so deficient in many ways.
MMRDA now has two big buildings in BKC, the newer is shining but unimaginative and represents an affront to basic concepts of design. Its ramp for cars completely distorts the footpath outside just as does the residential building of Indian Oil in the next building. So much for an authority which is supposed to lay down and implement guidelines for the whole metropolitan region.
MMRDA also continues to usurp a garden spread over several acres which used to be open to the public some years ago. It is now used exclusively by families of MMRDA officers living in the adjoining Jetwan building.
Such a waste of public funds . Also closed is a big garden in front of the building, part of it is full of garbage, electric light tubes, plastic and what not. And this is on a road fashionably named Avenue 1. So much for the whole gimmick of the proposed beautification involving several crores of rupees. The authorities first need to give priority to removing dirt.
A public park in the vicinity has broken benches and the bus stop outside the Reserve Bank building has broken tiles.
The corporate district is getting better connectivity with other areas with new flyovers frequently coming up but all this is for motor car traffic. Public transport remains poor, the scene outside the Bandra east station has been a disgrace for several years and shows no sign of improvement.
A metro station is coming up right near the row of administrative buildings of MMRDA, Maharashtra Metro and Mumbai Metro. It would be interesting to see how many of officials here and corporates take to the Metro, leaving behind their cars. Jetwan and MMRDA buildings have big car parks of their own plus there is a large car park nearby for visitors and others.
Vidyadhar Date is a senior journalist and author of a book on public transport