Six months after a Dubai-based infrastructure company emerged as top contender to bag the project to redevelop Dharavi, the tender for the multi-crore redevelopment project is likely to be scrapped. A high-powered committee of secretaries has suggested re-tendering the redevelopment contract with modifications to seek the lead partner for the project.
Unlike the tender published on November 28, 2018 that allowed up to eight consortium members to bid for the project, the proposed new tender — which is awaiting approval from the new government that is yet to be formed in the state — caps the number of consortium members to not more than two. It also requires the lead member of the consortium to be registered in India and the holder of at least 51 per cent equity of the consortium.
In October 2018, the Maharashtra Cabinet had cleared a new makeover plan for Dharavi, following which, the Dharavi Redevelopment Project Authority (DRPA) had opened the technical bids.
At an estimated cost of Rs 26,000 crore, this is set to the country’s biggest slum resettlement project. Spread over 2.4 sq km and home to over 60,000 families, Dharavi — Asia’s largest slum — stands on prime land in the heart of Mumbai, barely a stone’s throw from India’s richest business district, the Bandra Kurla Complex. According to initial estimates, the project can yield about 5 crore sq ft of saleable space, most of which is planned for commercial exploitation.
On the agenda of every political party since 2004, the much-touted revamp had never really taken off. Between 2004 and 2016, successive governments had invited global tenders twice (once between 2007-11 and then in 2016) and tweaked the redevelopment plan, but these attempts did not elicit response from private builders.
In February, Seclink, a Dubai-based infrastructure company, had emerged the top contender to redevelop the slum settlement. The only other bid was received from the Adani Group. While Seclink had quoted a total investment worth Rs 7,200 crore for the project, the Adani Group had quoted Rs 4,539 crore. On February 7, an empowered committee of secretaries, headed by Chief Secretary Dinesh Kumar Jain, accepted Seclink’s bid and on March 8, the consortium got the Letter of Intimation.
Sources in DRPA said that if the proposed modifications in the tender are approved, it is likely to push foreign players out of the fray. “The committee of secretaries, which was formed the scrutinise project bidders, has now modified the tender and DRPA is likely to retender the mammoth project soon,” said a senior DRPA official.
Other modifications to the tender include that the bidder must have an experience of 10 years in real estate, which was seven years earlier. It also requires that the members of the consortium and the lead partner should have finished minimum of 5,000 rehabilitation units. Earlier, the bidder and the consortium had to have proof of funds worth Rs 10,000 crore but as per the new modification, this amount has been reduced to Rs 3,500 crore.
Former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had asked for the opinion of the state advocate general on whether to go for retendering after the state government purchased a railway plot in June that also had to be included in the project area. The Indian Express had earlier reported that the railway land issue was discussed in the pre-bid meeting, where Seclink had given a written assurance it would also bear its cost.
A senior DRPA official said, “After the opening of technical and financial bids, there was a big development with the Maharashtra government purchasing a railway land that would then be a part of the redevelopment project. After this, the government had asked the advocate general’s opinion on whether it should proceed with the project or scrap the tender and follow retendering process.” The officer added that when an elected government takes charge, tenders would be floated again.