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What is the Dharavi redevelopment project, in the work for 18 years, now set for fresh take-off?

We explain what the Dharavi redevelopment project entails, its importance, and why it has been delayed so far.

A view of the shanties of Dharavi, Mumbai. (Express photo)

The Maharashtra government on Wednesday gave the go-ahead for fresh tenders in the Dharavi redevelopment project, almost two decades after it was first proposed. We explain what the project entails, its importance, and why it has been delayed so far.

What is the Dharavi redevelopment project all about?

Dharavi stands on a slice of prime land in the heart of Mumbai. It is just a stone’s throw from India’s richest business district, the Bandra-Kurla Complex, where commercial office premiums are among the highest in the country.

The slum sprawl, spread over 2.8 sqkm, is home to an informal leather and pottery industry which employs over a lakh people. The state had envisaged this sprawl be transformed into a cluster of high-rises with improved urban infrastructure. It entailed resettling 68,000 people, including slum dwellers and those with commercial establishments.

The state was to provide 300-sqft houses for free to residents with proof that their slum structure was in existence before January 1, 2000, and for a price to those who settled in Dharavi between 2000 and 2011. The project was initially mooted in 2004, but never got off the ground due to various reasons.

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When was Dharavi Redevelopment first proposed?

In 1999, the BJP-Sena government first proposed to redevelop Dharavi. Thereafter, the government of Maharashtra in the year 2003-04 decided to redevelop Dharavi as an integrated planned township. An action plan for redevelopment was approved by issuing a government resolution.

It was decided to develop Dharavi by using land as a resource to cross-subsidie the cost of development through a sale component on the basis of the Slum Rehabilitation Scheme, by dividing it into sectors and appointing developers for the same. The government also decided to notify the whole of Dharavi as an undeveloped area and to appoint a Special Planning Authority for its development.

In 2011, the government cancelled all tenders and drew up a master plan. In 2018, the BJP-Sena government formed a Special purpose vehicle for Dharavi and notified it for the redevelopment project. Later, global tenders were invited.

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Why did the Dharavi redevelopment project fail to take off?

The project got an impetus in 2016, when the Detailed Project Report was prepared during the Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP-Shiv Sena government. In November 2018, the then Fadnavis government approved a new model for the slum’s redevelopment. Although Dubai-based infrastructure firm Seclink Technologies Corporation turned out to be a successful bidder in January 2019 against Adani, the tender was not awarded following the decision to include Railway land in the redevelopment project.

In October 2020, the Uddhav Thackrey-led Maharshtra Vikas Aghadi government cancelled the tender and said new tenders would be floated soon. The MVA government had alleged that one of the reasons for calling off the tender was the delay by the Centre in transferring the railway land, which was vital for the project.

What has changed now?

With the swearing in of the new Eknath Shinde government, the issue of land transfer from the Centre is believed to be resolved. The state government has thus decided to call for fresh tenders for the project.

First published on: 21-09-2022 at 07:15:12 pm
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