Hariprakash Pandey, the vice-president of finance at Housing Development and Infrastructure, a major property developer based in Mumbai and one of the largest slum rehabilitation companies in India, talks about the hurdles developers are facing to secure land in Mumbai.
Could you talk about the issues that Mumbai is facing in terms of space?
The problem with Mumbai is the way the city has developed as an island city. Mumbai has a very long coastal zone area and most of the time there are regulations which don't permit high-rise buildings to be made close to the coastal zones. If you look at the eastern part of the city, which has mangroves, because of environmental reasons those lands have not been opened up. If you look at other cities, the airports are normally outside the city. As the city started to grow, it has come right into the heart of Mumbai. Because of this you can't have high-rise structures in a radius of 15 to 20 kilometres around it. The space which is available today can often only come in the form of redevelopment.
What are the other factors?
Because the city is so vibrant, there are so many job opportunities, that people from all across India come to Bombay. There was no affordable housing policy for these people, so they went ahead and kind of encroached on government land.
Which areas can be redeveloped?
The only way of getting the land for real estate development is either you go and look at some of the old textile mills that have got shut down, and those have been converted to real estate, or you approach some of the old colonies. You will have to go and convince the tenants, demolish the building and make the building again, or you go to the slums. You speak to the slum-dwellers and convince them to rehabilitate them and free up the land for either infrastructure development or use it for real estate development. In Bombay, you have to put in a lot of effort and time to get the land.
Aren't high-rise buildings the easy solution to Mumbai's shortage of space?
The drainage system we have in the cities is 100 years old. When you make high-rise structures, you are populating the city again and again. It could be a solution if it's backed by infrastructure. The city is struggling with the water supply, electricity, parking spaces.