Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust's Bhendi Bazaar Redevelopment Project Transforms Over 1000 Shops

Bhendi Bazaar is a market in South Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. Steeped in history and culture, this bazaar is a 150-year-old area between Mohammed Ali Road and Khetwadi. It is a popular shopping hub selling everything from carpets, antiques and lace, to apparel, hardware and religious paraphernalia.


Situated in the heart of the Island city of Mumbai, Bhendi Bazaar is at a point of appalling urban decay. The shop owners, carrying out age-old businesses, reside in structures that were built fresh during the time of establishment. The infrastructure is almost a century old, unsuited to the demands of modern urban life. 


Caption: Bhendi Bazaar in the early days


Tawakkal Sweets, one of the oldest sweet shops in Bhendi Bazaar, has seen adverse conditions through multiple generations. Moayyad Mithaiwala, the current generation owner says, “ Growing up in a 10x10 chawl at Bhendi Bazaar, my grandfather, father, and myself have faced multiple challenges. From lack of hygiene, and leaky roofs to unorganized ways of conducting day-to-day activities, and narrow roads outside shops, we have seen everything.”  


However, a redevelopment project carried out by Mumbai-based Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust (SBUT) has created a positive turnaround for Tawakkal Sweets and 1000 other shops. 


Reviving Bhendi Bazaar’s charm


Most of the buildings at Bhendi Bazaar were made of wood and brick. Over time, they were growing structurally weak and dangerously close to collapsing. The buildings were constructed with inadequate fire and safety measures, leaving the population occupying the buildings vulnerable to natural calamities. The bazaar’s narrow lanes make it almost impossible for vehicles to move, and the lack of footpaths is every pedestrian’s nightmare. 


Caption: The worn down infrastructure of shops


In 2009, with the area aging and businesses running full-scale under damaged shanty roofs, the SBUT decided it was time for rejuvenation. The same year, the organization was established as a public charitable trust.  


With the sole intention of creating a healthy and happier neighborhood, SBUT launched the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Project (SBUP) or the Bhendi Bazaar Redevelopment Project. The objective is to holistically uplift the living standards of the people in Bhendi Bazaar. It covers 16.5 acres of land and comprises 250 decrepit buildings, 3200 families and 1250 shops. 


The project was envisioned by the leader of the Dawoodi Bohra community, the late His Holiness Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, and is now carried forward by his son and successor His Holiness Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin. 


The organization says, “The creation of new infrastructure and availability of technology at their disposal will infuse growth and open new avenues for businesses in the area. The redevelopment endeavor will attract new businesses and investment, increasing employment and contributing to the socio-economic growth of the people.” 


Transforming ecosystems and lives


The project is planned holistically to promote a sustainable way of living. The area will have a sewage treatment plant, shops installed with solar panels, rainwater harvesting systems, and a well-planned garbage collection and disposal system. 


“Additionally, building alignment will be carried out,” says a representative from the organization, adding that increasing the height of structures ensures ample natural light and sea breeze for its residents. 


The entire area is divided into functionally appropriate spaces, and the buildings rise in height from south to north to minimize heat openings, while maximizing air circulation and natural lighting around the apartments.

Remodeled shops at Bhendi Bazaar


Over 1000 shops will receive additional open areas, green spaces, and play and recreational areas. In the redevelopment projects, wide roads will replace the narrow and congested lanes to accommodate tree-lined footpaths that will allow for the smooth flow of human and vehicular traffic. 


The organization says, “Some of the best principles for traffic management have been incorporated as a part of the design. This will considerably reduce fuel consumption and carbon footprint.” 


In 2019, the first phase of the project was completed. In this, 610 families and 128 businesses were moved to new premises, and the next phase of the project is underway. The organization expects completion in the next 3 to 4 years. 


Bhendi Bazaar after redevelopment


Today, Moayyad Mithaiwala of Tawakkal Sweets shares, “This redevelopment is the best that could happen to us. Earlier, we shopkeepers used to carry our business hastily, but this project has brought in a proper structure with rules and regulations that make it orderly. Initially, the ongoing development took away from our retail sales as families had to move to transit accommodations. But, since we were moved back into Al Sa'adah towers, we have seen a positive turnaround. We are hoping this continues while other sectors get ready.” 


Moayyad says that the SBUT has always been very supportive. His family and many other residents of Bhendi Bazaar have complete faith in Muhammed Burhauddin Maulana Syedna's project, and that the results will benefit everyone. 


Roshini Muthukumar

Roshini Muthukumar, a native of Chennai, started her career as a content writer but made a switch to journalism to pursue her passion. She has experience writing about human interest stories, innovative technology, entrepreneurs, research blogs, and more. Previously, Roshini has done internships with The Hindu, Metroplus and worked as a correspondent with The Better India.