THE FIRST 358 of the several thousand families in Dharavi will next month get keys to their new homes in the only building ready under the state government’s 11-year-old plan of transforming Dharavi’s teeming slums into swanky skyscrapers with well-planned amenities. But the wait for the rest 59,000-odd residents of Dharavi to get a new house in a highrise is still a long one, with the project still in the planning stages.
Meanwhile, the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) has finalised the list of slum dwellers eligible for rehabilitation in the only building ready, and has invited suggestions and objections from the 524 slum dwellers who were surveyed.
S S Zende, vice-president and chief executive officer at MHADA, said, “We will start giving possession of houses to the eligible residents after Diwali. As per procedure, we have to give all residents a 30-day period to voice any suggestions or objections, and conduct hearings with them to address their issues.”
The brand new 18-storey building, the only one to be built so far under the Rs 16,000-crore extensive Dharavi redevelopment plan, has been ready and vacant for over a year now.
The building has 358 houses of 300 square feet each, modelled as 1BHKs.
The erstwhile Congress-NCP government had hurriedly constructed the building on a vacant government plot to show some progress on the much-delayed Dharavi redevelopment project ahead of the assembly elections, while the rest of the plan was still in limbo.
Back then, the state government machinery had also started a frantic exercise to prepare a list of slum-dwellers eligible for free houses in the building, hoping to hand over keys to a few before the elections in October. However, the exercise of determining eligibility of residents from the close by Shatabdi Nagar slum for rehabilitation in the new building took much longer.
A MHADA official, who did not wish to be named, said the task took longer as initially residents were reluctant to come forward with their documents, hoping for bigger houses that politicians from across parties had been promising them during the heat of elections.
For many years, the Shiv Sena has been campaigning for 400 sq feet houses for Dharavi residents, with the demand turning shriller closer to elections.
Surprisingly, the Congress, under whose regime which the high-rise have been built, had also promised bigger houses of 500 square feet for Dharavi residents in its pre-poll manifesto.
“Later, changes in the government’s policy for determining eligibility, especially the decision to protect all structures built before 2000 and not necessarily just residents living in the structure before the cut-off date, also took us more time in completing the exercise,” the MHADA official added.