AFTER REPEATEDLY failing to get bidders for the ambitious Dharavi Redevelopment Project (DRP), the Dharavi Redevelopment Authority (DRA) has now planned another model that involves community participation. “A new innovative model involving community participation along with competitive bidding has been in principle approved by the high-powered committee on Dharavi,” said Debashish Chakraborty, Officer on Special Duty on housing. It’s a redevelopment project which has been in the planning books since 2004. Several attempts to tender out the project have been unsuccessful. With the civic polls nearing, the state government decided to revive the project last year. However, even after several extensions to send bids, the project received no bids from developers. Despite a good participation in pre-bid meetings, there were no takers for the final bids. The stringent conditions and high risk factors were pointed as the reasons. The new model aims to address these issues.
Apart from including the community’s aspirations in the redevelopment of the slums, DRP has also reconsidered its previous conditions.
Divided in five sectors, the 240-hectare slum was to be developed as a public private partnership in four sectors and by MHADA in the fifth sector. But after a poor response from developers the four sectors has been further divided into 12 parts and is to be redeveloped by Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA). Chakraborty believes that this sub-sector format will encourage the developers to participate in the project. “By dividing the slums into 12 parts we have made it much smaller thus bringing down their risk and also lowering the financial criteria. This will make the outreach much more,” he says.
The Redevelopment Authority plans to put this plan into action soon after the civic polls and new bids will be invited once again after the state governme’t’s approval.
The lack of progress in the project has not only irked the slum dwellers of Dharavi but also the other residents living in chawls and buildings who continue to survive in poor living conditions.
Initially, the government had proposed to offer 350 square feet free houses to both legal and illegal residents. Shiv Sena was one of the main opponents of the plan, forcing the government to increase the minimum carpet area for legal residents to 405 square feet area. Baburao Mane, a former Shiv Sena MLA and an active supporter of the cause, feels that the government is only making tall claims and will again go back to doing nothing.”
“For years we have been hearing about the project but nothing is happening on the ground. They will invite tenders again but unless they their conditions are relaxed they will not find a developer. After the elections are over we will resume our struggle and organise a massive protest,” he says adding that the government’s uncertain stance about the redevelopment project is only hindering the development prospects of the area.
“Dharavi residents have been living in this mess for decades now. We do not know when we will get our houses. The government has so many agencies like MMRDA, CIDCO, MSRDC, etc. Just like MHADA was given one sector, the government could give the other sectors to these agencies,” he says.
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