With the integrated redevelopment plan of Asia’s largest slum, Dharavi, still in limbo, the Uddhav Thackeray-led state government has allowed Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) to go ahead with the revamp plan of one of the sectors of the slum.
According to information, the Dharavi Redevelopment Project Authority (DRPA), on January 16, sanctioned MHADA’s plans for construction in sector five of the slum.
In November 2018, the then Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government, abandoning the earlier approach of dividing the slum into five sectors to be developed separately, had sanctioned a revised plan that combined all the sectors into one large cluster to enhance the buildable area footprint of the revamp and transforming the slum into a commercial hub.
After much delay, DRPA, in March 2019, even issued a letter of intent to Dubai-based infrastructure firm, SECLINK Technologies Corporation, for undertaking the integrated redevelopment of the slum as per the revised plan. But there has been no further progress on the new plan with the government itself seeking legal advice over the sanctity of the tendering process that was used for the appointment of the project’s developer.
MHADA’s Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Milind Mhaiskar, when contacted, confirmed that the agency had received approvals to go ahead with the construction of a couple of buildings in sector five. MHADA had started working in the sector in 2011 itself when then Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan had cleared an alternate sector-wise redevelopment plan. While construction work for the revamp of two buildings had begun then, it could not proceed beyond the plinth level, informed sources. MHADA’s plan was stalled after the Fadnavis government revised the revamp model.
Mhaiskar said that “further approvals” had now been issued for the construction work on “as is where is” basis. But Mhaiskar clarified that the plan to develop the entire slum colony as a single cluster will continue. The plan is to utilise the constructed portion of the two buildings to house project affected persons (PAPs) once the cluster-wise redevelopment commences.
While the plan to give the slum a makeover has been on the agenda of every political party since 2004, it hasn’t taken off. The new revamp plan, worth Rs 26,000 crore, is India’s biggest resettlement project. A delegation of Dharavi residents had recently met Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, urging him to expedite the redevelopment.
Since 2004, MHADA, which also owns a sizeable land bank in the region, has been entrusted with the task of revamping sector five. But so far only one building has been constructed, with 353 rehabilitation homes. Two other buildings are nearing completion, while the government has now green-lighted construction work for two other buildings.
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