Thursday, 24 May 2007

Worli, a part of South Mumbai, is a place you cannot miss

if you are traveling towards south Mumbai, it extends from Haji Ali to Prabhadevi and is recognized by its prominent ‘Nehru planetarium white, round dome’.

Some of the most exclusive residential buildings, such as Sumudara Mahal, Eden Hall, etc, in Mumbai are here, in Worli, The sea face near Worli also has a number of extremely exclusive and prestigious residential addresses. Worli used to be one of the Mill lands of Old Mumbai, and now these mills have been converted into Posh Offices and Malls.

Worli has the Mahalaxmi Racecourse, which is also known as ‘The Royal Western Turf Club’ of India, The Mahalaxmi Racecourse is a horse racing ground. The horse racing season starts in November and ends in February. On the first Sunday in February, the Derby (horse race) is conducted annually and is attended by many of the city's glitterati.

The Nehru Planetarium is especially popular with Mumbai's public and visitors, particularly the audio-visual shows at the sky theatre. At the Planetarium, an image of the sky as seen from anywhere in the world at any time, past, present and future 270,000 years either way, can be viewed. Shows in English are held twice a day daily at 3 and 6 p.m. except on Mondays when the planetarium and also the Nehru Science Museum are closed

Adjoining the planetarium is the Nehru Science Centre and a children's science park. Nehru Science Centre is visited by over 600,000 people every year who experience and enjoy the basic principles and marvels of science & technology. It is the largest Science Centre in the country with 8 acres of Science Park planted with varieties of plants, trees and shrubs. More than 50 hands-on and interactive science exhibits on energy, sound, kinematics, mechanics, transport, etc. are installed in the science park.

The Haji Ali shrine is located on a small island on the Arabian Sea overlooking the Worli sea face. There is a walkway which connects the shore to the shrine. This walkway is the only way to enter the shrine and it can be used only during low tides. High tides and monsoon rains completely cover the walkway. Inside the shrine there is a courtyard which normally sports a festive, talkative atmosphere.

The structure has typical white, Mughal domes and minarets. Although it is a famous Muslim pilgrimage site, non-Muslim visitors are welcomed. The shrine looks its best when seen from the shore silhouetted against the setting sun.

On a typical windy evening at Worli sea face, (overlooking the Arabian Sea) you get to see couples meeting on the sly, women friends catching up over corn and conversations, parents with children clamoring for candy floss and rides on the small merry-go-round, there are serious walkers and joggers, some with their dogs during the evening hours.

Some of the well known restaurants in Worli are ‘The Jewel Of India’, which is located near Jade Gardens in Nehru Centre, this restaurant is famous for their Sunday buffets and serves exclusive Indian cuisine with wide range of Kababs. There is also ‘Mela’, which is located neat Love Grove Complex, this is themed on a typical Indian fair with magicians, tattoo artists, fortune tellers and of course a good cuisine. Copper Chimney is another famous restaurant which is known for its Indian cuisine. Mahalaxmi Racecourse also features a restaurant, Gallops, which is populated by the well-to-do couples or families during the day and night. The interior is decorated with a rustic charm, reminiscent of the British imperialism's palaces with the light fixtures, the dainty carriages with the curtains, and still, the stable, with the bolts along the wall and lining the roof.

If you wish to shop, then the famous malls in this vicinity are ‘Heera Panna’ which is near Haji Ali, Pheonix Mills (Big Bazaar) which is behind Nehru Science Centre and Atria Mall which is located near Nehru planetorium.

The best way to travel in and out of Worli is by B.E.S.T buses. There is no railway station in Worli. The nearest station is Mahalaxmi. The other major railway stations are Dadar and Mumbai Central. Worli is connected very well to other parts of the city by roads. Worli - Bandra Sea-link is still under construction and will make the travel from suburbs to the downtown areas very comfortable, when completed.


Sunday, 20 May 2007

Andheri is the suburb in North Mumbai beyond Juhu

Andheri is the suburb of North Mumbai. It is separated by railway tracts into East and West.

A lot of popular residential areas in Mumbai like 4 Bungalows, 7 Bungalows and the posh "Lokhandwala Complex" Oshiwara, Yari Road are all part of West Andheri.

Contemporary West Andheri is largely a residential area, whereas East Andheri is has a mixture of commercial and residential areas, including MIDC-SEEPZ (Santacruz Electronic and Export Promotion Zone), Seepz++, Saki Naka (an industrial area), etc.

The Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai's International Airport is in Andheri East. Many Call Centers and BPOs are located in Chakala area of Andheri.

East Andheri also has pockets of attractive residential areas, with quiet, tree-lined streets, easy connectivity to the Western Express Highway, and without the congestion and pepetual traffic jams that afflict most residential areas in suburban Mumbai.

Andheri west has been climbing up the popularity chart

The place has superb malls, numerous multiplexes, excellent recreational facilities and good houses. Long considered a poor man’s Bandra, Andheri is today outstripping other localities.

Andheri West is becoming the preferred destination for young professionals, who find the quality of housing good and rental rates affordable. Over 75 per cent find the quality of construction good, while over 65 per cent feel that renting or buying a house was within their reach.

The housing facilities in Andheri West are the best in the western suburbs. You have houses for middle class and rich people. Everyone can afford to stay there

Andheri also scores highly in entertainment and education facilities (rank 3). More than 90 per cent feel that schools, colleges, coaching institutes, restaurants, malls, pubs and discotheques are top-notch. Over 85 per cent feel the locality has good gyms, clubs, multiplexes and theatres.

The problem for Andheri is its infrastructure and medical facilities, with over 70 per cent saying the roads are bad. Over 80 per cent say there should more quality hospitals.

There are lots of dug-up roads everywhere. Dug-up roads also mean noise and air pollution, which over 80 per cent feel is beyond permissible limits.

Andheri, however, scores highly in the safety index with over 90 per cent saying they feel safe in their homes and don’t face any problems even during the night.

The World Bank has many plans for the development of the largely industrial East Andheri. Work on the project of connecting Versova (in Andheri West) to Ghatkopar (a central suburb) by an elevated Metro railway line has begun by expanding the existing roads so that spaces can be created for the railway's pillars, etc. After the Metro becomes operational in about 2011, travel time will be reduced from the present 1 hour 45 minutes to about 20 minutes

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Mumbai local train scenario

Mumbai is a city of 16 million inhabitants, of whom 6 million ride the city's three main line . Trains designed to hold 1,700 passengers carry as many as 4,700 during peak hours in a bone-crushing 1.4 bodies per square foot of space.

As a result, some 3,500 passengers, or 10 a day, are killed annually in grisly accidents. Some are crushed to death by fellow riders or under speeding trains after falling out of doors that are typically left open to accommodate more riders. Others are killed by moving trains while crossing tracks to avoid crowded pedestrian walkways.

But more than half of all train-related deaths -- some 2,000 a year -- occur when passengers take shortcuts along the tracks to avoid walkways teeming with hawkers selling snacks, flowers and other goods. Impatient commuters risk their lives crossing the tracks to reach nearby platforms.

And some die simply, because they are careless and want to spent their idle time gossiping in the middle of tracks.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Redevelopment of properties in Mumbai

During our last general body meeting, our secretary proposed that we renovate our building because it was in a very bad shape. All our pipes needed replacement, the walls of the building were cracking up, there was lack of cleanliness and security and our building was in dire need of major repairs. The society did not have enough funds and there was no guarantee that there would be no more repairs for next five years after these major repairs.

Instead of repairs, somebody suggested redevelopment.

The subject of redevelopment has now assumed great significance because in Mumbai, majority of the buildings owned by co-operative societies are quite old and in a neglected state.

In case of redevelopment of old buildings, builders approach societies that either have some open plot of land or are willing to demolish the old structures to reconstruct new buildings.

Where such a development is possible, builders normally agree to pay some consideration to the society for its permission to construct a building on the open plot of land or to construct a new, bigger building using the Transferable Development Right (TDR), Floor space index (FSI) after demolishing the existing structure, and by providing alternate residential flats to members till the new building is constructed.

If we have to proceed with the process of redevelopment, it is important to take the advice of a lawyer who's well versed with the provisions of the Bombay Stamp Act 1958, the Maharashtra Co-operative Societies Act 1963 and the Income Tax Act 1961. In any process of redevelopment, we must be aware of documentations that are required and also we must understand the tax implications on redevelopment of immovable property.

One of the contracts, that there should be is 'development agreement' (which is merely authorizing developer to develop the land). While doing so we have to ensure that appropriate stamp duty is paid and that registration is done.
The builder approaches us, and we are the owners of the land and, instead of buying the land and paying a large amount towards the purchase; he enters into an agreement with us for permission to develop the land on our behalf for us.

In other words, in a case of development, the builder constructs the buildings at his cost, retains some flats for himself to be sold in the open market, and should also give a few flats to us plus pays us some monetary consideration. The developer will carry out this development work in the capacity of a constituted attorney that we, as owners, will appoint and not on his own behalf.

Later, these flats will be sold by the developer in the open market and from such sale, he makes a profit. He saves on stamp duty cost because the rate of stamp duty in respect of development agreement is much less than that payable on outright purchase. Later, when the building will actually be conveyed to a co-operative society or a company, we, as owners and builder become party to the conveyance deed on which the stamp duty is payable and the same is also registered.

It is important for a society to have a valid conveyance deed of land and building in its favor for it to be redeveloped and that includes acquiring marketable title, permission for reconstruction and construction of additional floors by use of TDR and FSI, or else, society may not get any approval of plan from Municipal Corporation.

But due to our ignorance, majority of builders fail to convey the title to a co-operative society after having constructed flats on a plot of land.
In fact, the greater majority of the co-operative housing societies, formed in Mumbai in the last twenty years, do not have the land conveyed in their favor. The outcome of this failure to grant conveyance deed is that the builder or the earlier owner still remains the owner of the property. This results in a situation where these societies have only possessor rights and not the ownership over the land, depriving them of the additional TDR FSI that is the main driving force for entering into such agreements.

Let us now understand the procedure and documentation required at the time of redevelopment of an immovable property. Before we agree to re-development plan, the following steps are required to be taken:-

The consent of the society members must be obtained during society meetings. On or before the execution of the agreement, the society should hand over to the developers, the copy of the conveyance deed in respect of the society’s property, along with certified copies of the property register card, index II, latest electricity bill, water bill, municipal tax bill, N.A. tax bill in respect of the society’s property and also, the copy of the registration certificate of society under the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies Act, 1960.

There should be a list of members with their choice of new flats and parking, area entitlement among others as agreed upon in the new building should be prepared.
A temporary alternate accommodation should be provided to the members during the construction period and should also be made clear in the agreement.

There will be complications which the society might face in case of redevelopment if following things were not considered.

They fail to assemble all members of the society at a single point of time during the meetings. (In my society, we have some stubborn members who just refuse to attend the meetings and then blow their top if any decisions that are taken are not in their favor.)

Sometimes the title may not be clear, i.e. conveyance deed of the land and structure is not executed in favor of the society.

There is anxiety in the minds of the members about possible delay in completion of the project after they have vacated their old flats.

The old documents of the members can not be traceable

There are some tax issues regarding redevelopment, which are not clear to the society.

Some members don’t wish to come back to the new building and ask for very high prices for sale of old flats or are more interested in purchasing a new flats at a discounted rate in new building.

Corpus amount has taken a long time to be fixed by the society.

As per old municipal laws, it was possible that the owner of building permitted TDR FSI to be loaded over the existing structure by way of additional floors for a consideration. This, however, is no longer permissible under the existing municipal laws.

We can, however, make some arrangements under which, a project involving the use of TDR FSI can be developed jointly.

We can allow our existing building to be demolished and the existing FSI can be developed for our use. The builder uses additional TDR FSI - the cost of which is to be borne by the developer alone and he constructs the new building.

When drafting a Development Agreement, some of the important points and clauses of a development agreement are:

The cooperative society, the developers and preferably all the members should be parties to this agreement.

There should be a brief history of how the conveyance deed was given to the society.
The registration number of the cooperative society under the Maharashtra Co-operative Societies Act, 1960, should be mentioned in the agreement.
There should be particulars of the existing flats with carpet area of the flats occupied by each of the member of the buildings.

The area of the plot as per the 'property register card' should be mentioned.
The total estimated FSI area that can be constructed by utilizing TDR on the plot should be mentioned.

The agreement should mention the carpet area, including the additional area, which will be made available to the members in the new building.

The schedule of payment of the total consideration should be specified in the development agreement.

There should be a mention of the tentative date for vacating the flats in the old building by the members, which shall be linked with the plans being approved by the concerned authority.

The number of open car parking space, stilt car parking and closed parking which will be given to the members in the new building should be mentioned in the development agreement.

Usually the developers obtain at their own costs the rights under the Development Right Certificate (DRC) in accordance with the provisions of the Development Control Regulations for Greater Bombay, 1991. Further, the developers get the building plans approved, obtain the commencement certificate and sanction of building plans from the MCGM and pay all the requisite deposits, fees and premiums to various authorities including the MCGM. It should be clarified in the development agreement that neither the Society nor the Members shall be expected to pay such types of expenses.

It must be clarified in the development agreement that each purchaser of a flat in the new building who intends to be a member of the society will be required to pay to the society the entrance fee and share allotment money as well as a sum as approved by the society towards the sinking fund of the society.

The time period for completion of the new building on the plot owned by the society shall be defined in the development agreement. In the event the developers fail to complete the entire work within the stipulated period, a penalty clause can be mentioned in the agreement.

It should be specified in the development agreement that from the date of taking complete vacant possession of the existing structure till the date of receipt of occupation certificate in respect of the new building and till such time that the builder intimates the members to take possession of their respective flats, the developers shall bear and pay all municipal rates, taxes and other payments required to be paid to the concerned authorities.

The agreement should also clarify that the society shall pay only the municipal rates, and other outgoing taxes till the vacant possession of the entire property is done (the plot and the existing structure) to the developers after receipt of full occupation certificate in respect of the new building.

The development agreement should list out the broad specifications and amenities to be provided for the flats in the new building on the plot owned by the society.
The development agreement should have a proper schedule of the property at the end of the agreement which should specify the location of the property along with the name of the suburb, final plot number, CTS number, area of the plot and municipal ward number.

Abovementioned are some of the important points relating to redevelopment of old buildings by cooperative societies. Since the laws on the subject of redevelopment are yet to be fully developed, any decision in this matter should be taken with great care or else it could lead to a possible dispute or litigation.

It is very important to understand the procedure properly before signing any papers. The building in my lane has a stay order due to some conflicts and misunderstanding between the society members and it stands in pitiful state since last five years. Till a proper agreement is not reached, the building can neither be redeveloped nor repaired and the members are forced to stay in these uncertain and unhealthy conditions for many, many years.

Monday, 14 May 2007

Welcome to Mumbai

A City where everything is possible,
especially the impossible
of which you are not responsible.

Where lovers first love
and then may marry,
Be it Tom, Dick or Harry

Where telephone bills
make a person very ill,
that can be cured only with a pill

Where carbon-dioxide is
more than a free oxygen,
As you near close to an open dustbin,

Where college canteens are full
and classes are empty,
Teasing welcomes a new entry,

Where a cycle reaches
faster than a car,
It doesn’t matter if you are a star,

Where sky scrapers overlook
a crowded slum,
you run for cover when monsoon come,

Where people first act
and then may think,
and pen their thoughts without a ink,

Where the roads see-saw
in wet and cruel monsoon,
a beggar learns to become rich soon,

Where the roads are leveled
when the minister arrives,
they are dug once more for one more trial

Where college admission
means you need hard cash,
Where cement is frequently mixed with ash.

This is Mumbai my dear,
But don't you fear,
just cheer and come to Mumbai
every year!

The name "Bombay" was derived from 'Bom Bahia' (The Good Bay),

.... a name given by Portuguese sailor Francis Almeida, in 1508 ....“Bounce back Mumbai” it is called by the locals, it is a city that has been through a lot in the recent past – floods, bomb blasts, riots – and come out stronger each time.

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