The ambitious Dharavi makeover plan is staring at yet another hurdle. After facing starting trouble because of a confrontationist approach taken by locals, who recently blocked the laying of a foundation stone for a building in Sector Number 5, the project is now seeing a fresh obstacle before it — a delay in the survey to determine families eligible for rehabilitation.
It is also feared that a large number of families in the slum will fall in the non-eligible category, raising the spectre of further opposition to the project.
The project has had a history of delays. It was given the go-ahead in 2004 by the state government, but the tendering process, undertaken in 2009, was cancelled in May last year.
Then, the Congress-led Democratic Front government decided to carry out redevelopment of Sector 5 with the help of Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada), and relevant orders were issued in May last year. But the locals did not allow the foundation laying ceremony for a multi-storey building in the sector to take place.
It is now revealed that neither Mhada nor the state housing department has a watertight list of slum-dwellers eligible for rehabilitation in Dharavi.
“A drive to thrash out who are eligible and who are ineligible among the slum-dwellers may take a year,” said a senior state government official, requesting anonymity.
The G-North ward office of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has been carrying out the survey to determine the eligibility of the slum-dwellers.
The officer said that though the additional collector (encroachments) normally undertakes such a survey, lack of manpower there has resulted in the BMC being entrusted with the task.
“The G-North office team has found that approximately 70 per cent of the residents do not fulfil the criteria for rehabilitation,” the officer said.
An officer from the BMC said the ward office had checked for eligibility 627 slum-dwellers recently and found that only about 30 per cent slum-dwellers fulfilled the criteria.
“Also we have issued notices to 200 slum-dwellers to submit papers to lay their claim for rehabilitation,” said the BMC officer, requesting anonymity.
Officials say that according to the available figures, about 12,000 families reside in Sector 5, which means the population of the sector is roughly 60,000.
If the survey sample taken so far is considered representative of the whole of Dharavi, then it means 70 per cent of the approximately 2.30 lakh population in the slum area — spread across five sectors on 590 acres of land that hold 59,000 families — is not eligible for rehabilitation.
In such a case, where a majority of slum-dwellers are not eligible for rehabilitation, the redevelopment project may face “several problems”, said an official who is a member of the government team that monitors the project.
According to sources, Sameerkumar Biswas, chief executive officer of the Dharavi Rehablitation Authority, has expressed unhappiness over the slow progress of the eligibility verification drive and directed BMC officials to speed it up.
“Even if the BMC does so, it is still likely to take at least a year for the exercise to reach a full stop as those who the survey finds do not fulfil the criteria will have to be given adequate opportunity to prove their claims,” said the senior state government official said.
According to the officer, the process may take months, considering the large number of slum-dwellers likely to be found ineligible.
It was revealed during a meeting that the G-North ward office did not have the voter list for 2000, the yardstick for eligibility, and were using the voter list for 1998.
“Now they have been asked to procure the 2000 voter list from the state electoral officer and match the names on it with the names of slum-dwellers to determine the eligibility,” said the officer.