Dr Prem Jain, Chairman, AECOM India, and Chairman, Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), has earned the epithet, ‘Green Visionary’, owing to his decades of service to the environment. A business entrepreneur and recipient of numerous awards and honours, Dr Jain is listed in Marquis Who’s Who in Asia (Marquis, USA, 2007) and Marquis Who’s Who in Science & Engineering (Marquis, USA, 2000–present), as well as among The Asia 500 Leaders for the New Century (Baron’s Who’s Who, USA, 2000). Dr Jain shares below, a status on the Bhendi Bazaar redevelopment project, with which he has been closely associated.
Transformation to a modern township
I have been involved with this project from its very start. When I was approached by SBUT to revamp Bhendi Bazaar, I saw an area of about 100 acre, which included a 150-year-old mosque that was unchanged from the time it was built, and perhaps decaying now. So, I suggested transforming this place to make it a modern township. To achieve this, two architects were roped in: one from India, Kutub Mandviwala, and another from Chicago.
We developed a plan where the mosque will remain as is. However, the mosque has a large area around it and there are almost 20,000 families living there in miserable conditions. Thus, a decision was made to adopt a phase-wise approach. First, we had to build transit houses nearby as the locals cannot shift to faraway places. If we moved them 10 miles away, they would not move there and develop slums nearby again. Hence, they were moved within 2-3 km where good modern transits have been built.
So, one area has been moved and we created the area near the mosque. We designed the project to make use of the sea breeze; we also improvised upon the Indian style WC because the stink comes from the western style as there is less water. We are using natural ventilation; we have provided water-saving devices using one-third the normal water flow. Offering all of this at a favourable cost, we have created modern housing with car-free zones. The idea was to give children a place to play without the parents being worried about them getting run over.
Smart city model
The project is highly successful; Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also appreciated and recognised it as a smart city model. The entire area will be Wi-Fi. All the people got the houses free of cost but they cannot sell them as they belong to the trust. To ensure that the running bill is reduced for residents, we are offering highly efficient air-conditioning in the bedroom and a well-ventilated living room. The plans also ensure that sewage is collected from every tower and recycled. Rainwater harvesting is practiced here and horticulture is also done. If Rs 800 crore has been invested in the entire redevelopment plan, the return will be about Rs 2,000 crore. I am sure that in the coming two to three years, this will be a model for every developer to replicate. Initially, this project involved a lot of challenges – getting clearances and permission. But eventually, we got all the permissions 100 per cent as per the Bye-Laws.”