The Railways Land Development Authority (RLDA ) will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Dharavi Redevelopment Authority within a week for the lease of 45 acres of land as part of the mega redevelopment project in Asia’s largest slum.
Senior railways officials told The Indian Express that it was not a sale and that the land would be given to DRA on a 99-year lease, which would be extended by mutual understanding.
The officials, who did not wish to be identified, said initially, the plan was to transfer 97 acres, but under the agreement, the Railways was parting with less than half of this. Meanwhile, housing experts and railway unions said the agreement would pave the way for private developers to make inroads into railway lands everywhere.
A DRA official, who did not wish to be identified, said the railways would get Rs 1,000 crore in the first phase, of which Rs 800 crore would be given during the MoU and Rs 200 crore after six months.
The agreement to hand over the land to DRA was finalised at a meeting on Sunday between Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, General Managers of Central and Western Railways and Chairman of the Railway Board.
According to documents seen by The Indian Express, of the 45 acre plot, Central Railway owns 28.56 acres in the Dadar-Matunga-Sion area and the remaining 16.56 acres, which is with Western Railway, is in the Dadar-Mahim area.
The chief public relations officer of the Western Railway said the MOU was being finalised for signing between RLDA and DRA. He said it was a lease agreement and not an outright sale.
Western Railway Mazdoor Sangh (WRMS) said it was against the decision of giving railway land to private developers or leasing it for non-railway use.
“Union representatives are going to meet the Western Railway general manager over the issue. If they still go ahead with their decision, we will plan protests such as rail roko,” said Ajay Singh, president, WRMS.