What does Dharavi want?

The state government wants Dharavi residents to decide whether they want to redevelop the slum themselves

In 2003, the then Congress government wanted Mumbai to transform into Shanghai, and a task force headed by chief secretary recommended developing Dharavi as part of the plan.

The Dharavi Redevelopment Project covers 240.35 hectares of land. file photo
The Dharavi Redevelopment Project covers 240.35 hectares of land. File photo

Now, a little over a decade later, and after spending more than Rs 50 crore and the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) erecting an 18-storey tower in the area, the new government wants to take public opinion into account when it comes to the redevelopment of Asia’s largest slum. The state government wants to know whether Dharavi’s residents want to redevelop the slum themselves.

The Dharavi Redevelop-ment Project covers 240.35 hectares, of which 57.68 hectares is owned by private parties and needs to be acquired for the project.

When asked about the proposed redevelopment, Prakash Mehta, housing minister, said, “We have given one sector to MHADA and the remaining four sectors have to be redeveloped. If we go ahead with an FSI of 4, the rehabilitation and the saleable component don’t fit. Most slum dwellers want permission to redevelop the slums themselves. Dharavi has many committees. We will consult them and publish an advertisement asking residents whether they want to develop slum societies on their own or let the government do it. This has to be done by April.”

Activists, however, claim this will not only confuse the slum dwellers but also lead to trust deficit. Sanjay Shinde, founder, Dharavi Nagrik Manch said, “Having Dharavi residents believe that redevelopment was underway, and now starting from scratch again is stupid. People have given their suggestions and the government should implement those.”

Dharavi Redevelopment Plan (DRP)
>> October 2003: A task force headed by the chief secretary, consisting of 11 government and non-government officials was constituted by the government to prepare an action plan for transforming Mumbai into a world-class city by 2013.
>> February 2004: The task force emphasised that its recommendations should be processed on fast track. One such initiative recommended was the development
of Dharavi.
>> February 2004: A proposal of a project management consultant (PMC) Mukesh Mehta for redevelopment of Dharavi was accepted by the government on the recommendation of Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA). The government appointed the PMC with a consultancy fee of one per cent of the estimated project cost of R5,600 crore. The expenditure on DRP was to be met from the resources of SRA.
>> April 2004: To identify the structures on the project area, the work of Plane Table Survey (physical enumeration of land details with structures and slum dwellers) for the
project started.
>> November 2007: A fresh geographical information system-based biometric baseline socio-economic survey was ordered for DRP by the Officer on Special Duty.
>> June 2007: DRP invited expression of interest from developers and short-listed 19 on the basis of specified selection criteria. Thirteen bidders withdrew. Six bidders remained for five sectorsin Dharavi.
>> September 2008: The OSD consulted an expert regarding the tendering process initiated by DRP and the expert found it defective. As DRP was a public-private partnership project (PPP) the invitation should have been a request for proposal (RFP) instead of bids invited by DRP. The various risks such as political risks, the risk of acceptance by slum dwellers, delays in approvals by various bodies like MCGM, trends in real estate market were not analysed by DRP. The bid document didn’t even provide for any risk sharing mitigation. Based on this, the expert suggested rewriting the RPF. However, this advice was not heeded by DRP and the bids were kept alive and cancelled only in May 2011.
>> May 2011: Government issued an order to award the redevelopment of sector V, through MHADA. MHADA has not yet prepared any proposal for this sector. It has developed a building in Dharavi for slum dwellers and 558 flats have been almost constructed.

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