The Dharavi redevelopment project — that promised to revamp Asia’s largest slum into a plush one — seems to have hit a roadblock.
While locals are opposing the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada) and favouring private players, builders are wary of undertaking the project owing to a number of flip-flops that have taken place over the last 12 years.
Rehmatbhai Khan, 70, a Dharavi slumdweller, believes that private builders will provide bigger houses than the 300-sq-ft ones promised by Mhada. “Our families are growing and we may get a better deal with private builders than with Mhada,” said Khan.
Congress MP Eknath Gaikwad also supported private builders undertaking the project. “I am not happy with Mhada’s work in other parts of the city,” said Gaikwad.
However, builders who are yet to recover from the recession, are wary of the project. RNA builders, who had formed a consortium with Videocon and an Israel-based firm, blamed the lack of clarity for their withdrawal from the project. “There were too many changes and it was complicated,” said Manoj John, vice president, corporate planning and strategy, RNA builders.
Meanwhile, political parties have only complicated matters further. The Shiv Sena demanded 400-sq-ft houses along with a corpus amount of Rs10 lakh a slum. “Builders are sure to make a fortune, so why not share it with the slums,” said former Sena legislator, Baburao Mane. Gaikwad, however, rubbished Sena’s claim saying the party was indulging in cheap publicity.
Mukesh Mehta, who conceived the project, said that the original plan was the best one. “That is the one that should be implemented as the people of Dharavi were satisfied with it,” said Mehta.
Local organisations accused the government’s lack of transparency for the roadblocks in the project. “We are tired of waiting and it would be best if the government quit the project,” said Raju Kode, president, Dharavi Bachao Samitee.
However Mhada said that the plan was still on. “We are the implementing agency and are obeying the directions of the state government,” said a senior official of the housing board. They accused the state government of complicating matters.