Dagdi Chawl once used to house mill workers from the nearby industries in Byculla. Now it is known for the heartened home of mafia don turned politician Arun Gawli alias Daddy. The Chawl is soon getting a makeover under the cluster redevelopment scheme.
Geeta, the corporator and daughter of Arun Gawli has confirmed the news. While speaking to Afternoon Voice she said, “In Dagdi Chawl we have more than 350 tenants and they will get houses of 450 sq. ft. area each, the planning is not done yet. Just the local builder has made a deal to undertake this redevelopment project.”
She further stated that “The architectural planning is yet to be done, we want redevelopment but at the same time we don’t want the chawl to lose its typical beauty.”
Arun Gawli the underworld from Dagdi Chawl held regular durbars for the people. The public would fear coming to Dagdi Chawl due to its horrific reputation. It was also often in news due to police raids in the mid-nineties after the Mumbai Police decided to take the underworld head-on.
There were many encounters in Chawl, many extortion stories and death threats from here. This Chwal was a proper underworld syndicate. Presently, the Arun Gawli family, which lives in the redeveloped building on the 4th floor, will also be part of this project. The ground floor houses the office of the Akhil Bhartiya Sena (ABS) which was founded by Gawli. The Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) has given the initial sanction for the project.
MHADA Chairman (Repair Board) Vinod Ghosalkar said, “We have given the Letter of Intent (LOI) for the redevelopment of Dagdi Chawl. This was issued after the residents of Dagdi Chawl gave their consent to the revamp process.”
Asha Gawli, Arun Gawli’s wife and a social worker told Afternoon Voice, “Here people are living life in one big family, and they have a very strong bond with us. What we want is their overall development. This redevelopment can elevate their lives for sure.”
The Chawl is a virtual stronghold and no one is allowed inside without the mandatory checks by Gawli’s menfolk. After 1987, when gang wars erupted in the city, Gawli and his men remained confined to these chawls. Most tenants were supporters of Gawli. In fact, police officials point that the gang members constructed tunnels, holes and cavities in their houses as their hideouts.
Gawli also had a turn in politics when he formed the ABD and contested assembly as well as municipal elections. He was elected an MLA in 1999. His daughter is a corporator of the city’s civic body the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). The Saat Rasta-Byculla area around Dagdi Chawl has seen vertical development in the past two decades with several old buildings making way for skyscrapers.