Subscription Subscription
Home > Mumbai > Mumbai News > Article > Lok Sabha elections 2024 What does Dharavi want

Lok Sabha elections 2024: What does Dharavi want?

Updated on: 15 May,2024 07:13 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Prajakta Kasale |

With the redevelopment issue in focus, mid-day speaks with locals who say area needs schools and hospitals

Lok Sabha elections 2024: What does Dharavi want?

Coordinators of Dharavi Bachao Andolan, at Dharavi. Pics/Anurag Ahire

Dharavi is in the spotlight as its vote bank is crucial for both sides, the MVA as well as Mahayuti. The area is part of the Mumbai South Central Lok Sabha constituency and its redevelopment and relocation of people living there will not only affect candidates of the constituency but are also crucial in defining the future of candidates of the North East parliamentary constituency where the government was planning to shift the people from Dharavi. The government plans to relocate Dharavi locals to Mulund. But what do the residents of Dharavi want? mid-day finds out.

Though the roads are now of cement concrete and facilities like water and electricity have improved over the decades, the small, filthy gullies of Dharavi—comprising slum settlements as well as hundreds of small-scale industry units—are still the same. People are eager for redevelopment as they are deprived of basic facilities like toilets in their homes. But at the same time, they do not want to leave Dharavi.

Sanjay Gupta, shop owner
Sanjay Gupta, shop owner

Alima Ansari, a resident from Rajiv Gandhi Nagar, said she has been living in Dharavi for decades, since the time when seawater used to enter the area and there were mangroves, and the gullies were narrow, muddy paths. She said a lot has changed in and around Dharavi in the last few years and now everyone is eyeing on their area and homes. “We want to secure our homes and families from these people,” she said.

‘Fight for rights’

According to Ansari, this is also happening at places where Adivasis live. “We should fight for our rights. We won’t allow anyone to grab our land,” she said. Rajeev Chaube, a resident of Kamla Nehru Nagar, expressed the same emotion. “Despite several assurances, the earlier governments failed to provide basic facilities to Dharavi and that’s why many original residents who helped to develop Dharavi  and the rest of Mumbai had to sell or rent out their homes. We love our families and just like our friends’ homes in Sion, Matunga, we also wanted a small study room and separate toilets in our homes. But we cannot do anything and many of our Marathi neighbours moved to Ambernath, Badlapur and Titwala. It is like the migration from villages to the city. Dharavi is our village but people are being uprooted due to improper management by governments. We have given enough chances to earlier governments for 70 years and now if someone is asking us to vote for development, why should we not give him an opportunity?”

‘Don’t trust politicians’

Anil Kasare, once a corporator, does not have faith in politicians. “We do not have any relation to any private developer or company. Our sole demand is to get a home where our homes are. There have been many governments, many representatives elected from Dharavi over the years. They spent crores of rupees from public funds but there isn’t any real development. Then the government should stop allotting funds to corporators, MLAs, and MPs. It is our money,” asserted Kasare.

Paul Raphel, who works for AAP as well as Shiv Sena (UBT), said that everything in Dharavi depends on the photo pass. “Earlier people got the pass for R30,000-35,000. But now the cost has been increased to R1.5 lakh. Everyone from the BMC and state government officials to the police is involved in the scam. The land mafia grabbed most of the land and now even a room in SRA buildings has a rent between R17,000-20,000 per month. Every political party tries to gain from Dharavi and even residents are responsible for the state of the area.”

People also highlighted issues other than redevelopment. The area lacks basic civic facilities. There are no proper schools, colleges, hospitals, or open spaces. Over 90 per cent of the homes lack proper ventilation and many homes need to have the lights turned on even during the day. Sanjay Gupta, who runs a service centre at 90 Feet Road said the area as huge and complex as Dharavi needs to be developed by big developers as they can afford the risk and manage such a project. “Earlier, residents were getting 270-sq-ft homes from the SRA. Now, as the state government promised to allot 400 sq-ft homes, they have started demanding 500 sq ft just to oppose the project. Dharavi needs schools, hospitals and gardens which require land and it can only be done with a proper redevelopment plan,” he said.

Ulesh Gajakosh, a coordinator of the Dharavi Bachao Andolan, said he had been living in the area for generations and despite several attempts, the redevelopment of Dharavi hasn’t been possible. “Why should we hand over our homes to a private person? What if he left the project midway? We need a government authority to develop our homes and we need 500-sq-ft homes in Dharavi itself.”

Opposition to revamp

Uday Nande, a local leader from Maratha Samaj, explained another side. “A few people opposed the Dharavi Redevelopment Project saying it was given to a private contractor. However, the draft of the project was completed and tender floated during the MVA government, and the contractor was selected after a procedure. The state government will develop the area through the contractor. It is a project of the government and not of the private builder. But people just opposed it as they are not in power now,” said Nande, adding that residents do not want to go anywhere else and the CM and DCM have made it clear that everyone will get homes in Dharavi itself.

Raju Korde, a key part of the Dharavi Bachao Andolan, said that Dharavi is spread over 600 acres of land. “The government has started acquiring 1,215 acres of land from various authorities and agencies like the Railways, octroi department, Mulund Dumping Ground etc. Why do they need more than double the land area to redevelop Dharavi? The government wants to grab the land which is in the middle of the city and Piyush Goyal, central minister of BJP government announced that they will clear all slums in and around Mumbai. The Dharavi redevelopment project is not meant for the people staying here. The BJP wanted replacement and not redevelopment,” he said.

Great land value

According to Anil Desai, the Shiv Sena (UBT) candidate from Mumbai South Central, everyone is eyeing Dharavi as it has great land value due to its proximity to the Bandra Kurla Complex. “We supported the redevelopment of Dharavi but now the residents are opposing the project due to the shocking plan revealed by the current government. The layout plans should be shared with the residents. People have been living there for generations and shifting them is depriving them of their rights. Dharavi not only has residential homes but also has a large number of small-scale industries. They should get a separate working place near their residence. Also, redevelopment of Dharavi should include upgradation of facilities like schools and hospitals. The development has to be done as per the demands of locals,” Desai said.

Rahul Shewale, the Lok Sabha member from the Mumbai South Central constituency, said that being born in Dharavi, he was aware of the problems and sufferings of the people there. “So Dharavi redevelopment is not only a project but also a dream come true for me and I will try till my last breath to complete this project. The Opposition is using false propaganda about the redevelopment of Dharavi only for selfish politics. In fact, those who could not develop Dharavi for decades are now campaigning against this redevelopment. The Mahayuti government is determined to make the redevelopment of Dharavi with a shop, a house and a smile for everyone,” he said. Shewale added that the people of Dharavi would not be sent to Mulund due to redevelopment. “They will be resettled in Dharavi itself and on the Railway site. The site at Wadala will be used for rental housing,” he said.

The contentious issue explained

The state government plans to rehabilitate Dharavi residents at the entry point of Mumbai city while the BMC plans to rehabilitate around 8,000 project-affected families in Mulund East. The BMC has decided to develop a housing colony for around 7,000 project-affected families in Mulund. The state housing department had written to the BMC, asking it to hand over 64 acres of land located in Mulund East to the Dharavi Redevelopment Authority (DRA). The DRA will develop a rental housing colony for residents of Dharavi who are not eligible for redevelopment. A total of 18 acres of land comes under the octroi naka while the remainder is part of the dumping ground which is now closed. The residents of Mulund East have been opposing the rehabilitation projects. The residents wrote emails, protested, and even met Chief Minister Eknath Shinde in this regard.

600 acres
Approx area of Dharavi

"Exciting news! Mid-day is now on WhatsApp Channels Subscribe today by clicking the link and stay updated with the latest news!" Click here!

Register for FREE
to continue reading !

This is not a paywall.
However, your registration helps us understand your preferences better and enables us to provide insightful and credible journalism for all our readers.

Mid-Day Web Stories

Mid-Day Web Stories

This website uses cookie or similar technologies, to enhance your browsing experience and provide personalised recommendations. By continuing to use our website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. OK