Soon after the much-delayed Dharavi redevelopment plan failed to take off once again amid a tepid real estate market, the state government drew up a new one and got an in-principle approval for it from a committee of secretaries on Wednesday. This one divides the project into smaller sub-sectors to make it palatable for developers and bring in greater community participation.
As per the newly-drafted scheme, four of the five sectors of Dharavi that the state government was to redevelop will be broken down into 13 sub-sectors, with their areas ranging from five to 12 hectares. The fifth and smallest sector is being redeveloped by Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA). The plan will now be sent to the state government for a formal sanction.
For now, the committee has also decided to defer the redevelopment of Sector 1, which has a large number of legal residents living in buildings and chawls, and focus on the revamp of the other three sectors, involving 10 sub-sectors. The state had been facing ample opposition from residents of Sector 1 who felt they were being equated with slum dwellers .
Debashish Chakrabarty, the bureaucrat in charge of the Dharavi revamp project, said, “We are not dropping Sector 1 for redevelopment, but only deferring it. Meanwhile, we are thinking of engaging a consultant to study all the prevailing issues and make recommendations for inclusive redevelopment.”
The BJP-led state government has been keen on pushing Dharavi’s metamorphosis forward before the 2017 polls. With an eye on civic polls, the government revived the plan earlier this year, deciding to implement it on a public private partnership. However, despite repeated attempts and dilutions in eligibility criteria, not even a single developer came forward, sending the project back to the drawing board in August.
“We realized that local slum dwellers felt isolated from the whole process. Secondly, it was difficult for developers to step forward given the size of investment required for every sector and a hefty number of slum dwellers to interact with. Breaking the project down into sub-sectors will ease the eligibility criteria and open it up for more competition,” he added.
While under the earlier plan, a single developer or consortium had to handle an area with over 10,000 slum structures, with the sub-sectors in place the number will now come down to 627-6,176 for different sectors.
Further, to involve slum dwellers in the project, the state government has outlined a two-step process. While it floats pre-qualification bids to empanel a list of developers for every sub-sector, the government will urge slum dwellers of all sub-sectors to form their cooperative societies or federations and elect promoters. Slum societies will be given 45 days to interact with developers, understand their plans and give a preference of three developers to the government.
In the second stage, the government will pick a developer for every sub-sector based on a combination of the highest bid and the most preferred developer for the slum dwellers of that sector, Chakrabarty said.