Redevelopment of Urban Villages

Case study of Navi Mumbai through the summary of a research study on impact of redevelopment of Gaothans and surrounding areas in Navi Mumbai by increasing floor space index (FSI) to four

The phenomenon of urban villages in the Indian context can be viewed from two different perspectives. The first suggests that under the influence of rapid urbanisation and economic development, many urban areas in Indian cities and towns have doubled or tripled in terms of land cover and population. As a result, a large number of traditional rural villages, located in the peripheral areas of cities, have became part of the city’s built up areas.

They have been turned into the so-called ‘urban villages’ and examples can be seen across the country – from small towns like Bhiwadi in the National Capital Region, to cities like Hyderabad and Bangalore.

The second is the case of existing urban villages within city limits and includes examples such as Delhi, Mumbai and Navi Mumbai. In the case of Delhi, these urban villages also identified as lal dora, are exempted from municipal and building codes. In Navi Mumbai, these urban villages, locally known as gaothans were initially not included in the land acquisition process during the formation of the Navi Mumbai New Town Development Authority Notified Area.

Introduction

In 2014, the Maharashtra State Government proposed a resolution for Urban Renewal Schemes for gaothans and surrounding areas in the Navi Mumbai Notified Area to regulate unplanned and haphazard development. The scheme relies heavily on voluntary and participatory involvement of eligible inhabitants of gaothans and surrounding areas. It is envisaged that this redevelopment approach will also address unauthorised development of structures owned by the Project Affected Persons (PAPs) and other individuals on lands acquired by CIDCO. The proposed redevelopment and regularisation of the existing eligible structures by increasing the floor space index to four must be preceded by an impact assessment study as per the instructions of the High Court of the State of Maharashtra.

A joint research study was initiated by the CIDCO Smart City Lab at NIUA with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, India as per the scope of work suggested by CIDCO. The research study assesses the impact of the redevelopment of gaothans and surrounding areas by increasing the FSI to 4 on physical, social infrastructure and other facilities such as parking, open spaces etc. Ten gaothans were studied in detail to map the status quo of the urban villages in Navi Mumbai and re-establish the need for redevelopment, and providing communities with better quality of life and safe neighbourhoods. The infrastructure gap analysis was followed by a financial analysis to assess the economic viability of the scheme with the demonstration of a financial model for the Shelgar1 gaothan. The study concludes with guidelines to mitigate the impacts of future developments as part of the reform action plan.

Gaothans in Navi Mumbai – A typical example

The Navi Mumbai region has developed around 95 revenue villages and around 100 gaothans in Thane, Panvel and Uran talukas. A typical gaothan includes the core village and surrounding areas which include lands acquired by CIDCO.

Gaothan Urban Form

The gaothans in Navi Mumbai are characterised by streets with inadequate road widths, high density, dilapidated and sub-standard dwelling units, inadequate physical and social infrastructure and low level of sanitation. Typically, there is a single access road located centrally in the gaothan which further leads to pedestrian approach roads to individual housing clusters or units. The land-use change around these gaothans has influenced the urban form greatly. During site visits to selected gaothans, it was observed that the houses in the core gaothan area are on small plots, typically one-room or two-room tenements with a small place for cooking and sanitation.

Most of the gaothans have grown outside their boundaries up to around 200 metres or even beyond. The sprawl areas have plotted housing (on land given to villagers under the 12.5 per cent compensation scheme), chawls and walk up apartments.

People have attempted to adopt to changing needs within their constraints which is clearly evident in the transformations seen in the physical form of the villages and in urban sprawl areas. The nature and extent of the transformation in gaothan housing is influenced by the location of each specific gaothan in the Navi Mumbai region, proximity to public transit (local trains, bus), industries and other employment opportunities in the region provided by the Thane-Belapur Industrial Belt, IT industries, APMC Market in Vashi, Taloja-Kalamboli Industrial Development, CBD in Belapur, and future development projects such as Navi Mumbai Metro, Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) and Navi Mumbai Airport.

Housing Typologies in Gaothans

Infrastructure Services within Gaothans

The following observations about the status quo of the infrastructure provision and services is based on primary visits by the project team and also based on available secondary data. These are general observations on the infrastructure aspects common to most of the gaothan and peripheral areas.

Water Supply

Essential water supply to the gaothans is provided by NMMC and CIDCO in their respective areas of jurisdiction. Elevated service reservoirs were found in most of the gaothans through which water is supplied to the residents. Limited hours of supply is provided on daily basis.

Sewage and Surface Water Disposal

Sewage disposal system has been laid in the gaothans by the respective authorities, however, open drains were found in most of the gaothans in the core areas. This has led to unhygienic living conditions. Surface water flows through the roads and pathways into nallahs or open drains nearby gaothans.

Solid Waste Management

Garbage collection bins were occasionally found installed in the gaothans. However, there is no proper collection and disposal system for solid waste. In most of the gaothans, solid waste was found littered on the outskirts of the gaothan. The gaothans within the prime nodes like Belapur, Vashi, Nerul were found to be cleaner due to more organised solid waste management systems in these areas.

Electricity

Electricity for gaothans is supplied by MSEDBL (Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Board Limited). There is a severe load shedding problem especially during summers.

Fire Services

No special fire stations are provided for gaothans. In case of fire, the fire stations at the node level would serve the emergency. However, the roads in the gaothan are narrow (varying from 1m footpaths  to 3m – 6m vehicular roads) and not adequate for fire access to all the localities.

Roads

Typically, every gaothan is served by a nodal level major road and internal vehicular road approximately 4m to 6m wide. The internal vehicular road is further split into multiple pedestrian roads to access individual houses/properties. Pedestrian roads are also used by bicycles, two wheelers and auto rickshaws depending on the width of the roads. Usually, the surface treatments/pavements on the roads are appropriate to ensure pedestrian safety. Certain internal roads are dark due to narrow width and tall buildings along the roads. Such roads are inadequate for fire access in case of fire hazards. Internal roads in case of gaothan communities also act as social spaces and informal areas.

Social Infrastructure

Every gaothan has a municipal school or zila parishad school for primary and secondary level depending on the jurisdiction of the gaothan. Every school has a sizable open space / playground. Some gaothans also have aanganwadis or pre-primary schools. Gaothans in urbanised nodes like Vashi, Nerul, Belapur etc. also have private pre-primary schools. For secondary schools, colleges, and higher education, the gaothan population is dependent on the nodal infrastructure.

The school playgrounds are used for other occasional social activities. For other social amenities like auditoria, public gardens, sports facilities etc., the nearest nodal level facilities are used. Public toilets are provided in gaothans, however, due to a lack of regular maintenance, cleanliness and hygiene, the toilets are not in use.

Urban Form Analysis

Increase in FSI would have a direct bearing on the urban form. The assessment of the urban renewal schemes needs to be undertaken for the size and structure of the buildings and dwelling units that are likely to emerge in various gaothans. While multiple urban forms might arise, depending on the actual shape, size of land holdings and willingness of residents to participate in the scheme, the study includes an analysis that evaluates the building form and consequent economic viability for two options – plot sizes of 4000 sq.metres and 2000 sq. metres. The following are the urban form options suggested as a part of the study:

Infrastructure Impact Analysis

Increase in FSI to 4, as envisaged in the Navi Mumbai Notified Area renewal scheme, would result in an increase in population density. There will be additional load on the existing infrastructure due to this increase. The infrastructure in the urban renewal clusters will have to be augmented and even redesigned as per additional demand. Further integration with city level infrastructure is critical.

Water Supply

Based on the analysis of existing water supply sources, current water supply structure, future water demand and introduction of water conservation techniques and usage of recycled water the study concludes that the net impact on the city water supply network due to an increased FSI of 4 in the gaothans will be virtually NIL.

Sewage

The study recommends that all buildings of 20,000 sq. metres built up area and above will require the provision of a localised STP. Only excess water post reuse of treated effluent in non-potable applications like flushing, irrigation, street washing, industrial cooling etc. shall be discharged in public sewer. Once this norm is applied and water conserving fixtures and fittings are used, the net discharge from the gaothans in the node level sewer manholes will be less than the existing designed load. Hence no change/enhancement in existing city sewerage network of piping and STP capacities is needed. The impact on city sewerage due to an increased FSI of 4 is NIL.

Storm Water Drainage

In the Navi Mumbai project area, approximately 20 per cent of the area is low lying and prone to tidal submergence. Surface drainage needs to be properly planned by providing swales, rain gardens, drains, ponds etc. in alignment with surface grading to minimise the impact of flooding during monsoon. The study further recommends the use of modern plumbing materials like PVC-U/ HDPE pipes in storm water drainage to maximise the runoff without any leakage through the pipe materials or joints. Also, since the roughness coefficient (n) of these materials is less as compared to conventional materials like RCC pipes/channels, the hydraulic gradient can be shallower thereby reducing the amount of excavation/depth of inspection chambers which shall make laying and maintenance of drainage systems much easier.

Since storm water management is influenced by rainwater harvesting and water conservation measures, the net impact on storm water management in the existing city nodes due to an FSI of 4 in the gaothans is NIL. The post construction discharge shall not exceed pre-construction discharge in the entire urban development if the same shall be used by the urban planners and landscape architects in sustainability initiatives in the project.

Solid Waste Management

Based on the estimated population after redevelopment of gaothans and assuming per capita generation of a 500 grams of waste per day, a significant increase in Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) generation is expected. With the increase in the quantum of MSW, the collection and transportation system would need to be augmented proportionally. The current system adopted uses garbage collection vehicles that transport garbage to dumping yards. With the estimated increase in volume, there will be a need to augment manpower, and vehicular resources to meet the new volumes.

With business as usual practices, there will be an impact on the processing and disposal facilities. NMMC would need to encourage decentralised treatment options, coupled with segregation practices to handle the increased volumes. Given the spread of gaothans, it may not be possible to configure waste to energy plants only for MSW generated from these villages. The feasibility would need to be studied from the perspective of waste generation at the node level. This would have an impact on the sanitary landfill site (at Turbhe), with the active life being reduced. NMMC might need to explore alternate waste management processing and disposal facilities, to address the reduced life of the facilities.

Electricity

Navi Mumbai receives its electricity supply through Mahadiscom (Maharshtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd. MSEDCL) which is a State Government undertaking. The present daily electric supply requirement for Navi Mumbai is estimated to be 456 MW. With an average load of 100 watts per sq. m., it is anticipated that there shall be a substantial increase in electricity demand for residential development, amenities, utilities, as well as street lighting, as the existing average FSI of 1 is now expected increase to an FSI 4.

Social Infrastructure Facilities

Gaothan wise details of available social infrastructure including educational facilities, health facilities and community facilities are not available. Open spaces in gaothans or in surrounding areas are defined by narrow streets and community spaces enclosed by housing units. However, these spaces are poorly maintained with poor lighting conditions. The total requirement of educational facilities for the total projected population for gaothans and surrounding areas is expected to be around 202 with the need for 194 schools, 4 degree colleges and 4 professional colleges across the Navi Mumbai region. Provision for 95 Health facilities needs to be planned as part of the cluster redevelopment scheme which includes land allocation for 78 nursing homes and 17 hospitals, and distribution needs to be based on the population in the gaothan.

Financial Analysis

Redevelopment of gaothans is dependent on the economic viability of the scheme, and based on the population trends in the Navi Mumbai and Mumbai region. Achieving a terminal population, as estimated for an FSI of 4, would require a time period of between 20 and 25 years. Accordingly, it is assumed that each development is spread out over a five year period.

The project’s financial viability can be increased in certain cases (where the residential and commercial sale prices are high) by bringing additional land under the ambit of the project. This would reduce the proportionate share of the PAPs, thereby increasing the project’s bottom line. If additional land is not possible than additional FSI without increasing the parking would help in making the projects more financially viable. In gaothans where the sale pricing is low the schemes can be turned profitable by reducing the cost of construction which can be achieved by reducing the cost of parking as evident from the models presented in the report.

The financial model assumes revenue inflation to be 9 per cent for the first five years and 6 per cent thereafter and cost inflation at an even 6 per cent throughout. The NPV is calculated by assuming a discount rate of 22 per cent which is the typical expectation that a private developer would seek in order to undertake such a development. In case of Shelgar gaothan, the assessment indicates that a support of (INR 10.37 Cr per 4,000 sq. metres under the Urban Renewal Scheme) is required in order to make this project viable.

Summary

The approach towards redevelopment of urban villages by city governments vary from city to city. It can trigger socio-economic, cultural and housing re-arrangements within these communities. The diversified consequences of physical and social changes can be different for each village. For instance, urban villages in most of the cities are the hub of cheap rental housing for migrant population. Redevelopment in most cases doesn’t include the existing rental households under the rehabilitation and can adversely impact the rental housing market.

Development of gaothans in Navi Mumbai started with change in the land-use of gaothans from agriculture which was the prime source of livelihood for native population to several other urban land uses. The agricultural land was either sold or acquired by government for urban area expansion. Extensive unauthorised developments mushroomed2 in the peripheral areas of gaothans reportedly due to housing needs of existing and migrant population. Development of gaothans evolved spatially to provide more housing units, and vary functionally to make available room space for changing demand. The development of gaothans reflects the multiple needs and demands of people that live and work there, and these are related to their formal urban context. As a result, gaothans evolved differently, largely due to their diverse urban contexts, and this shapes a heterogeneous urban village housing market. Human behaviour in different gaothans tends to be diverse in nature as they shift from agricultural production to room-renting and other socio-economic activities.

Gaothans should not be studied in isolation as there is a strong linkage and mutual dependencies with their formal urban environs. This can be understood from the fact that the formal urban development around a gaothan generates employment, consumer markets and the improvement of infrastructure, all of which greatly influence the development of the gaothan. The consequential reactions in the gaothans, i.e. physical growth and socio-economic transformation, are triggered by the development of Navi Mumbai. Similarly, the development of the gaothan also influences its environment. Knowledge of these relations is important to plan for the redevelopment transition of these gaothans.

To understand the dynamics of top-down planning processes and the bottom-up growth of a gaothan, a separate study needs to be contemplated to enable a deeper understanding of the gaothans as a rather complex, dynamic and heterogeneous urban phenomenon. This study can explore the dynamics of gaothans, not only the process of evolution and its resulting spatial and social diversity revealed, but also the relationships between the development of gaothans and the overall growth of the Navi Mumbai. This is expected to improve the understanding of the development and position of the gaothans in Navi Mumbai context. Moreover, all the distinct individual gaothans across space and time affect the overall functioning of the Navi Mumbai. Their aggregate outcome, i.e. the pattern of the social and spatial changes at the city scale, represents a very large share of the urban growth that significantly shapes the overall land use and housing profile of Navi Mumbai. The understanding from such studies might guide and improve the cluster redevelopment scheme for gaothans and surrounding areas in Navi Mumbai.

  1. Inhabitants of the Shelgar gaothan have approached CIDCO for redevelopment under the Urban Renewal Scheme
  2. Navi Mumbai’s 20,000 illegal constructions to be regularised [Source: Mid-Day News article dated 13 March 2015]