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HindustanTimes Thu,02 Oct 2014

CEO leaves for US at most crucial time for the project

Naresh Kamath, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, August 21, 2013
First Published: 08:47 IST(21/8/2013) | Last Updated: 08:49 IST(21/8/2013)

In what could possibly further impede the Dharavi Redevelopment Project (DRP), Samir Kumar Biswas, its chief executive officer (CEO), has left for America to join a five-month training session.

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According to DRP officials, this is definitely a setback since the next few months are crucial for this Rs15,000 crore project.

“We have to issue tenders for the project as well determine the eligibility of the residents. It is going to be a tough job and we need someone tough to handle these issues. This is really not good news,” said the official who declined to be named.

Biswas had conducted the hearing of suggestions and objections for the project and compiled its findings.

The next few months are important since both parliamentary and assembly elections are due in 2014 and no tenders can be floated or contracts awarded during this period on account of the strict Election Code of Conduct.

Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan was keen to complete the process to claim credit for implementing such a controversial project before the elections, it has been reported.

Currently Nirmalkumar Deshmukh, chief executive officer ( CEO) of the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) has been given the additional charge of DRP.

After the in-principle nod from Chavan two weeks ago, the Dharavi Redevelopment Authority (DRA) had fixed a deadline to complete the tendering work within the next five months for the remaining four sectors.

Of the five sectors, Sector 5 has been assigned to the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) which has already started its work.

Dharavi residents, however, accuse the government of being inconsistent with the project from day one.

“This has been going on from years and the sad thing is we are never taken into confidence on any issue. We keep hearing new things every day and each officer comes up with new ideas,” said Baburao Mane, president, Dharavi Bachao Andolan.

However the state government says the project is on track.

“Both me and the chief minister are monitoring the project regularly and we want to show the residents what we have done before the upcoming elections. The project is progressing as per the schedule,” said Sachin Ahir, state minister for Housing.


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