Dharavi, will it be ever redeveloped?

What is wrong with Dharavi, will it be ever redeveloped? Asia’s largest slum has got another date now. After almost four postponements, the Dharavi Redevelopment Project, has now extended the date from May 20 to June 21, for opening the global tenders for redeveloping four sectors of Dharavi. The tenders were floated on January 30, earlier this year, and were to be first opened on April 7, after which it was postponed two times and Friday was the day. However, now it again has been postponed to June 21. Officials, off the record, claim builders aren’t coming forward, and on record claim that they were making some changes to the tender.

The total cost of the project estimated by the authority is Rs 21,936 crore, for the four sectors as sector V is being developed by MHADA. One of the biggest reason for builders shying away from the project is that, the real estate market isn’t very good and it’s too much of money.

According to Arqam Shaikh of Arc Associates an architectural firm, government policies are also one of the reason to be blamed for why many developers aren’t coming ahead. “The policies from the government aren’t clear, all permissions have to be taken by the builder and then there are departments who sit on files. Dharavi is one such project, which has been controversial, and the past experiences show that there has been very less success,” said Shaikh.

What Shaikh meant is that that last time, also there were tenders that were floated, many builders came ahead and participated too, but then the government one fine day cancelled the whole process.

While this may be one of the reasons, the other reasons according to builders are that, the real estate industry is short of funds. “Builders are committing suicide, because of bad market and in this scenario it’s too much to ask developers to put in such huge amount in slum redevelopment projects, which is stuck for almost 15-years now. There is no guarantee that after all the process, the redevelopment shall be done in real sense, as there are some people still protesting,” said a developer.

There are few thousand residents of Sector 1, who are demanding bigger homes under redevelopment and have been protesting against the tenders. The government is offering 405 square foot homes, while the protestors want flats above 700 sq ft. The protestors had also sent letters to some builders, which seems to have dissuaded many.

Nirmal Kumar Deshmukh, the CEO of the DRP, claimed that the dates have been postponed, because, there were queries which had to be added to the tender process. “The queries have been added, and the next date for opening the tenders is June 21. I cannot comment on whether the real estate market is down or not, that you can guess.”

On whether the protests was one of the reasons, and if the government pay heed to their demands of larger homes, he said, “We are offering only 405 square foot homes, no bigger homes.”

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