There has been little progress in the Dharavi Redevelopment Project (DRP) since it was started in 2004.
All major political parties in Dharavi are now trying to outdo each other by making promises about faster redevelopment, bigger houses, improved public amenities, commercial and industrial units.
While Shiv Sena candidate Baburao Mane has assured 400 sqft houses to slum dwellers if he comes to power, the current legislature, Varsha Gaikwad, announced free housing admeasuring 500 sqft in her manifesto.
“In our manifesto, we have announced that Dharavi residents will get 500 sqft house and slums prior to 2000 will be considered eligible,” said Hukumraj Mehta, south-central- Mumbai, district Congress president.
Dharavi is spread across 500 acres and is near Sion, King Circle, Matunga Road, Mahim railways stations, as well as the eastern and western expressway.
To make it commercially viable, the state government granted the DRP floor space index (FSI) limit of 4. However, the project, worth Rs1,5000 crore, has failed to take off.
“The government only carried out surveys, but did not give housing to anyone. There needs to be strong political will to undertake such a massive project,” said advocate Rajendra Korde, founder president of Dharavi Bachao Samiti.
Under DRP, the whole area is divided in to five sectors. Of these, sector 5 is given to Mhada for redevelopment, where one building is currently under construction.
However, in the other four sectors, the work has not progressed, as after cancelling all the global tenders, the government has still not decided how to go about with the redevelopment. Voters are not happy merely with promises of bigger houses and have started demanding illegal construction such as mezzanine floors be legalised.
“Most of the mezzanine floors are constructed to accommodate big families. Some of them also have sufficient documents to support their claims. In such conditions, the families staying on the mezzanine floor should be considered during rehabilitation,” said Bhanudas Bobade, working president, Jan Kalyan Griha Nirman Vikas Samiti.
While, some candidates have offered bigger houses others are assuring better working and living conditions to voters.
“In addition to housing, we have assured scientifically designed industrial and commercial units with proper ventilation facilities. Only giving them houses is not good enough. Residents should be provided with good living conditions,” said Divya Dhole, BJP candidate from Dharavi.