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Dharavi redevelopment: not a dream but a mirage!

Dharavi redevelopment: not a dream but a mirage!
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– Rajendra Korde [email protected]

During the assembly election campaign in 1995, Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray had announced to give free houses to 40 lakh slum dwellers in Mumbai. Manohar Joshi became the Chief Minister of Maharashtra after this election. A committee was appointed under the leadership of Dinesh Afzalpurkar to implement Balasaheb’s declaration. According to the report given by this committee, Slum Redevelopment Authority i.e. ‘S-RA’ was established. The concept of free houses started from here. The plan is for a private developer to construct a house for free to the slum dwellers and in return he can construct a sales unit and sell it. If 1 square feet is constructed for rehabilitation in Mumbai city district, in return the developer will be able to construct 1/5 square feet for sale. One square foot of construction for redevelopment in the suburbs will provide the same i.e. one square foot of selling factor. According to the Afzalpurkar Committee report, since Dharavi has been declared a difficult area, if one square foot is built for rehabilitation, the developer can in return build 1-33 square feet for sale. Dharavi Redevelopment Project is a part of this free housing scheme.

On the occasion of 100 years of Congress Party, then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi visited Mumbai. During this tour, he paid a special visit to Dharavi. During this visit, seeing the poor condition of Dharavi, he had announced a grant of one hundred crore rupees for the development of this settlement. But later on, the Congress government in power in the state decided to use this subsidy fund for the whole of Mumbai and decided to give only a portion to Dharavi. Most of the Rs 37 crore allocated to Dharavi was spent on infrastructural improvements and the remaining amount was used to construct a 90-foot road in Dharavi and a total of 23 four-storey buildings in Netaji Nagar area.

Also a colony of Pratiksha Nagar called ‘P-M-G-P’ Colony was established. Under this scheme the slum dwellers got fixed houses of 180 square feet area, but these houses were not free. These houses were built with grants from the Prime Minister’s Grant Scheme and bank loans made available to slum dwellers. The loan amount was to be repaid in installments over the next twenty years and the cottagers have paid the amount in full.

In 1997, the Slum Redevelopment Authority was established and competition began to set up planned cooperative housing societies in Dharavi. Approximately 800 to 1000 planned cooperative housing societies have been established in Dharavi. An exception in Dharavi would be a slum section where no such co-operative housing society has been established. It is clear from the establishment of this organization how eager the slum dwellers of Dharavi were to move to a solid house. During the seven years from 1997 to 2004, a total of 86 buildings of housing societies were erected in Dharavi. The number remained limited as developers only took up the work of cooperative housing societies along the road. Otherwise, a record number of slum redevelopment proposals would have been filed and completed in Dharavi at the same time. In 2004, the government decision on the Dharavi Redevelopment Project was announced and the Slum Redevelopment Authority stopped accepting slum proposals in Dharavi. Meanwhile there were 16 co-operative housing societies whose redevelopment proposals were submitted to the SRA and scrutiny fee was paid. Such organizations demanded that we be excluded from the Dharavi redevelopment project. Accepting this demand, these organizations were excluded from the Dharavi Redevelopment Project. So far, a total of 102 buildings of cooperative societies have been constructed in Dharavi through ‘S-R-A’.

The Congress government led by the then Chief Minister Sushilkumarji Shinde announced the decision of the Dharavi Redevelopment Project. Lok Sabha elections were also held this year – the then MP and Lok Sabha election candidate Manohar Joshi’s election campaign leaflet informed about this plan – the government accepted and announced this plan for an integrated well-planned redevelopment of Dharavi headed by a non-resident Indian architect named Mukesh Mehta. Mukesh Mehta, the mastermind behind the scheme, was also appointed as a consultant by a government decision – and the SRA in Dharavi stopped accepting proposals – now including 45 acres of railway land. The notified area for Dharavi redevelopment projects by the 2004 decision was 178-30 hectares! And this area was divided into a total of 9 sectors. Later, an area of ​​62-05 hectares from Sant Rohidas Marg and Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg to Mithi River in Kaichi was added to it. This area was named as Sector 10.

In 2009, tenders were floated for the first time globally for the Dharavi Redevelopment Project. Earlier S.R.A. And concerned officials of DRP also toured many countries of the world to promote this project. It was felt that this tender was getting a huge response initially. Because, even though the price of this tender form was Rs.1 lakh, approximately 101 companies had purchased these forms. But after the presentation in the pre-tender meeting, none of the companies filled the tender. As a result, this tender had to be canceled in 2011.

In 2016, the then Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis-led government restructured the sector for the Dharavi Redevelopment Project. A total of ten sectors were divided into five sectors. Sector 10 newly entered in this scheme has become Sector 5 in this new structure. The work of redevelopment of this sector 5 was entrusted to MHADA and tenders were issued for remaining sectors 1 to 4. This tender also had to be canceled due to lack of response. In 2018, while inviting tenders for the third time, the responsibility for the redevelopment of Sector 5 was taken away from MHADA and a joint tender was made for all the five sectors. There was no response to this tender initially – in the first extension, Seclink Technology Corporation, the only company said to be related to the Dubai-based Sheikh family, submitted its tender – in the second extension, Adani Realty submitted its tender. As per the general rules for conducting the tender process, at least 3 tenders are required, as a special case only two tenders were accepted and opened. Seclink Technology Corporation won the tender with a bid of Rs 7,200 crore. Adani had placed a bid of Rs 4,500 crore and the base price of the project was Rs 34,150 crore. Even after winning the bid, SecLink Technology Corporation was not issued a Letter of Intent (LOI). It is proposed to acquire 45 acres of land owned by Railways for this project through purchase. But the actual agreement was not made and the purchase price was not paid. The opinion of the Advocate General was taken in this matter and the Advocate General advised to cancel the tender on the pretext that the parameters of the tender have changed due to inclusion of railway land in the project. The Uddhav Thackeray-led coalition government canceled the entire tender process in 2020 by advancing the same issue.

In 2022, dramatic developments took place in the state and the government of Shinde and Fadnavis was formed. Devendra Fadnavis, who is the Deputy Chief Minister in this government, has the housing portfolio, so he took the initiative and announced his resolve to complete the Dharavi redevelopment project. He met Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnav in Delhi, after which a land purchase agreement was signed between the Railway Land Development Authority and the Dharavi Redevelopment Project. Railway land was acquired by purchase. But the terms of this agreement have not been revealed yet. Railways usually do not give their land permanently for any project. It is common knowledge that railway land is leased on the terms and conditions that it will be taken back if necessary for future expansion of the railways – what exactly is mentioned in this agreement cannot be said much at the moment as it is still in the bouquet – but let’s assume that the government has taken due care and Let us hope that the government will open up this agreement in the wider public interest.

For this tender, which was issued for the fourth time, many of the terms and conditions of the earlier tenders were relaxed. The estimated cost of the project in the tender issued in 2018 was Rs 27,000 crore, but four years later it came down to Rs 23,000 crore. The base price for the tender was 3150 crores in 2018, now it has been increased to 1600 crores. Experience in construction and many other criteria were made convenient changes. Seclink Technology Corporation, which was selected last time, did not participate in the tender process this time. Out of the total three tenderers, Naman Group’s tender was rejected in technical scrutiny. Also, ‘D-L-F’, a well-known and experienced company in the construction sector, bid a lower amount than the base price of the previous time. In view of all these developments, the tender process is fake and the suspicion of match fixing for Adani is strengthened.

Modest and fair demands!

There is no reason for anyone to be against such an integrated/planned redevelopment project of Dharavi. The Dharavikars were never opposed to this project and still are not. Dharavikars have very simple, modest and just demands. The majority of slum dwellers in Dharavi have only one major demand and that is a 400 square feet house! At present, slum dwellers are given 300 square feet free house under SRA scheme in Mumbai – Dharavikars can get 405 feet house if they are given the benefit of fungible FSI as a special case. Dharavi’s project is a project of special importance (VPP) in which many concessions have been given to the developer. It is a modest demand that Dharavikars should be given this concession.

Brihanmumbai Mahanagara Palika in Dharavi – There are chalis of rental houses built by the municipality on land owned by the Estates Department as well as buildings constructed by establishing co-operative housing societies on leased land. The residents of this place are demanding that houses up to 750 feet should be given to them on the basis of development control rules currently in force for Mumbai after surveying and measuring the plots here. This demand also has to be said to be modest and fair.

Consultant appointments and waste of money!

For the Dharavi Redevelopment Project, three level and household surveys have been conducted till date. Around Rs 20 to 25 crores have been spent on net consultant fees. Prior to the fourth tender, a separate tender was floated for the appointment of a consultant for the project.

The government has announced its intention to set up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for the Dharavi Redevelopment Project. The capital of this company will be Rs 500 crore. The share of the developer appointed after winning the tender will be 80 percent i.e. Rs 400 crore in this company while the government’s share will be 20 percent i.e. Rs 100 crore. An important target of the government is the rehabilitation of slum dwellers and for that it is proposed to do this work in the first seven years. In the remaining 10 years, the sales component and other improvements are planned to be worked on.

Dharavi Redevelopment Project has been given the status of Vital Public Project – VPP by the government. There is a provision to give some concessions to the developers and the affected persons in the projects given special importance status. By adopting this provision, many concessions have been given to the developers. But the provision of no cut off date / datum line for the eligibility of slum dwellers has been conveniently omitted. M.U.T.P in Mumbai. and M.U. I. P. There was no cut off date / datum line for projects with this special project status. Here all the project victims who were registered during the survey were given houses.

It will be 19 years since the government decision of Dharavi Redevelopment Project was announced on February 4. The decision showed Dharavikars a dream of integrated-planned redevelopment. But if we look at the issues of ‘policy-paralysis-dharasodana’, lack of political will and sloppy planning, it is feared that this will not be a dream but a mirage. With consistent and planned efforts and hard work, dreams can be realized. But running after a mirage does nothing.

(The writer is Chairman of Dharavi Redevelopment Committee and State Secretary of Farmers Workers Party.)

The article is in Marathi

Tags: Dharavi redevelopment dream mirage


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