With the Dharavi redevelopment project already mired in delays, the state government is now facing strong criticism from within its own ranks for one of its most ambitious projects. An increasing number of Congress leaders are joining the chorus of voices coming out against the decision to assign the redevelopment of Sector-5 to the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA).
In the last one decade not even a single slum has been evacuated and in the last one year, with MHADA being given the responsibility to redevelop Sector-5, the problem has worsened with the government’s own men now opposing MHADA.
Congress leaders opposing MHADA have even made their dissatisfaction public. While Congress MP Eknath Gaikwad went on a one-day hunger strike recently to protest against the delay in implementation of the project, now Hukamraj Mehta, district president of the Congress, claims that he along with Gaikwad and MLA Varsha Gaikwad have written several letters to the CM asking him to disallow MHADA from redeveloping Sector-5.
“We have seen MHADA’s construction at various places, and we do not want such construction in Dharavi. Hence, we want private parties rather than MHADA to construct the buildings here. MHADA won’t be able to do the construction and we know it, hence we are opposing it,” said Mehta.
MHADA, in May 2011, was awarded the contract by the state government to redevelop Sector-5, for which it even began the tendering process.
Tender were invited in January but till last month no suitable developers could be found, and so MHADA finally cancelled the whole thing on the basis of no competition. MHADA once again invited new tenders from developers. But developers are shying away from the project and, according to a senior MHADA official, there exists too much risk when it comes to redeveloping Dharavi, as developers do not see any profit due to the fact that they have to handover flats to MHADA.
Currently there’s no Project Management Consultant appointed as well, as MHADA had to cancel the tendering process for the Project Management Consultant because of poor response.
Now even the consultant has stated the whole project is befuddled with confusion. Mukesh Mehta, the Project Management Consultant for Dharavi (overall), claims Dharavi currently is nothing but confusion. He says MHADA has never redeveloped slums, and hence it is inexperienced. “Currently there’s nothing but confusion related to the Dharavi redevelopment, with no one knowing what’s happening to the project,” he said.
Senior officials in MHADA refused to comment, but one official said, “MHADA needs to plan better. Redeveloping Dharavi is nothing but a challenge, where what’s needed is plain will power, which is lacking today.”
Dream gone sour
The dream was to convert Mumbai into a world-class city, and the starting point was to redevelop the shanties of Dharavi into beautiful flats. However, Dharavi that comprises of more than 200 hectares of land still remains the same.