State wants a big bite of the Dharavi pie

Maharashtra to amend Slum Act to acquire 51 per cent stake in redevelopment of Dharavi

The Democratic Front government is unwilling to offer the entire Dharavi redevelopment project to private builders. The Congress-led government will introduce an amendment to the Maharashtra Slum Act, 1971 that will enable it to have a 51 per cent stake in the Dharavi project in the coming winter session of the state Assembly.

This amendment is being proposed only for the Dharavi redevelopment project that was envisaged in 2004.

The decision comes after Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan held a meeting with the officials of the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA), Maharashtra Housing Area Development Authority (MHADA) and the Urban Development department on September 19. Private players will be invited to take over the remaining 49 per cent.

If passed, the new clause will be inserted in Section 33 of the Act. The new clause 33(10)1 proposes that the government will have greater say in the Dharavi project and the Slum Rehabilitation Authority will be the special planning authority.

Former Maharashtra chief ministers Vilasrao Deshmukh and Ashok Chavan were known to be in favour of private developers taking up the entire responsibility of redevelopment projects. However, soon after he took over, Prithviraj Chavan has been exhorting MHADA to play a bigger role in these projects, so that the government can reap financial benefits.

In earlier projects, the SRA and government would handover pieces of land to private developers for redevelopment. The builders would exploit the FSI to earn more from home-buyers. However, in February, the Ministry of Environment and Forests issued a notification on coastal regulation zones, asking the state to hold 51 per cent stake in certain redevelopment projects.

Dharavi spread across nearly 240 hectares, and home to 60,000 shanties and houses, will be divided into five sectors. In the first phase, 10,000 slums spread over 23 hectares will be resettled on a six hectare plot. A seven-hectare plot will be left open for commercial development to recover the cost of resettlement, said an official from the housing department.

When the Dharavi makeover plan was first approved in 2004, its cost was pegged at Rs 5,400 crore. Now, the revised cost has crossed the Rs 12,000 mark, say officials.

In Dharavi, the state has approved FSI 4 for redevelopment.

FSI is the ratio of the permissible built-up area vis-a-vis the plot size. An FSI of 4 means if a plot is 1,000 sq m, the built-up area can be up to 4,000 sq m.

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