More delay for Dharavi project as SEC to okay tender ad for consultant

Minutes before the BMC poll code of conduct kicked in earlier this week,Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan announced that the just-cleared new Development Control Regulations would give a fresh push to the long overdue and delayed Dharavi Redevelopment Project.

Written by Kavitha Iyer | Mumbai | Published: January 6, 2012 1:51 am

Minutes before the BMC poll code of conduct kicked in earlier this week,Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan announced that the just-cleared new Development Control Regulations would give a fresh push to the long overdue and delayed Dharavi Redevelopment Project. But it is now clear that the Rs 15,000-crore project,okayed by the state government in 2004,cannot take off just yet.

Though senior government officials confirmed earlier this week that tenders would be called immediately,it now emerges that the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) will have to first appoint a new project management consultant before tenders for contractors can be invited.

“The tender documents to appoint a new project management consultant are ready,” said a senior government official,unwilling to be named. “We will have to seek the permission of the State Election Commission (SEC) before releasing the tender advertisement.”

SEC Additional Chief Secretary Chand Goyel confirmed that government agencies approach them before releasing tender advertisements,but said it would not be possible to comment on an individual case or a time-frame for considering each request.

Coincidentally,around the same time as the CM’s announcement on Tuesday,MHADA released a tender advertisement on its website calling for contractors to build in Dharavi. Officials claimed that the Dharavi tender process had now begun,but the advertisement was for one building in the slum comprising 344 shacks whose design and specifications would be available only on January 11,the advertisement proclaimed.

“Tackling issues of land ownership,designs and arriving at a financial model are time-consuming processes,” said a government official,confirming that the complete tender for contractors for Dharavi Sector 5 could only be invited after the appointment of a project management consultant.

Appointing a new consultant through a tendering process could take the better part of two months. Incidentally,the first consultant,Mukesh Mehta,is currently involved in bitter arbitration proceedings with the state government and has contested his probable ouster.

“Over six months ago,when the CM gave his nod for a MHADA-led redevelopment of Sector 5 of Dharavi,the step was welcomed as a boost to the slumbering project. While a special cell was immediately formed in MHADA and officials announced that work on site could start in six months,not a brick has moved since,” said a local Congress leader in the slum.

Chavan’s latest announcement also indicated that the PPP option,originally the formula for all five sectors’ redevelopment and then overturned for Sector 5,could still be considered for privately-owned land within Sector 5. “A steady stream of local land owners have approached us in the past months seeking permission to start redevelopment in clusters within the sector divisions created for the DRP,” said a MHADA official. “We could now consider their demands.”

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