Dharavi redevelopment: To push project, state to ask Centre for immediate release of 46-acre Railways land

Written by Sandeep A Ashar
| Mumbai |

Published: August 1, 2020 2:07:41 am

Jitendra Awhad said that there cannot be a more opportune time to push for the redevelopment of the slum. (File)
The state government on Friday decided to approach the Centre for an immediate handing over of a 46-acre plot at Matunga in Mumbai, which is to be used for setting up transit shelters for the relocation of the slum dwellers affected by the Dharavi Redevelopment project.
The decision was taken during a review meeting attended by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad and senior bureaucrats.
When contacted, Awhad said that Uddhav will personally speak to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal to expedite the handover.
Spread over 2.4 sq km, Dharavi is home to some 60,000 families and 8.5 lakh people. It has so far reported 2,556 cases of Covid-19. Once a Covid-19 hotspot, it has succeeded in flattening the curve and reported only five new cases on Friday. According to the local ward office, Dharavi has 77 active cases as of now.
Awhad said that there cannot be a more opportune time to push for the redevelopment of the slum. “A major factor behind the spread of the infection in the area was the high density of population and the lack of quality healthcare,” he added.
In a letter previously written to the CM, Awhad had said, “You won’t get a more appropriate opportunity to push Dharavi’s redevelopment, which will lead to its overall social and economic upliftment.”
The state government has already paid Rs 800 crore to the Railways for the Matunga land. Located barely a stone’s throw away from India’s richest business district, the Bandra Kurla Complex, Dharavi sits on a prime land. Its revamp has been on every political party’s agenda since 2004, but it has failed to take off so far.
In November 2018, then Devendra Fadnavis government, too, had approved a new model for the slum’s redevelopment.
In the global bidding process that following, Dubai-based infrastructure firm SECLINK Technologies Corporation (STC) had emerged as the top bidder, having committed to an upfront capital investment of Rs 7,100 crore for the Rs 26,000 crore revamp plan.
On March 8, 2019, the Dharavi Redevelopment Project Authority, a state-run SPV, had even issued a Letter of Intimation recognising STC as the topmost bidder and declared the government’s intention of awarding the contract to the firm.
But there has been little progress since them, with the government seeking legal opinion on whether the tendering process for the revamp itself had been vitiated due to the subsequent development where the Railways land was to be taken over. The only other bidder in the tender was the Adani Group.
Meanwhile, in a meeting of the executive board of the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA), Uddhav gave a go-ahead to the creation of a stress fund to provide an alternative funding route for stuck and ongoing slum redevelopment projects. This will now come up for the state Cabinet’s approval.
Various concessions that could be extended to developers to expedite redevelopment of slums were discussed.
The board also cleared a proposal to replicate Mumbai’s SRA model to other parts of the Mumbai Metropolitan Area and major cities.
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