Eleven years after the Dharavi redevelopment project was announced, the first set of 358 slum dwellers from Shatabdi Nagar will move into their new homes in January, paving the way for the construction of two 22-storey buildings on the plot as part of the second phase of the project.
The Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada) has got the state nod for the construction work in sector 5. Although the number of rehabilitated slum dwellers (358) is 0.6% of the total slum dwellers (59,165), the beginning of the construction work is a significant step for the project that has faced inordinate delays and hurdles in its implementation.
According to a senior Mhada official, the work on sector 5 will begin only after all eligible slum dwellers move into their new houses. “We have got the permissions and the work will start next year,” he said.
The 300-sqft homes were ready last year, but the rehabilitation was delayed as there was no clarity of how many slum dwellers were eligible for it. So Mhada extended the deadline for submission of documents till the end of November.
Sector 5, which has 9,300 slum dwellers, has been sub-divided into 16 clusters. It spans from Sion station to Rajiv Gandhi Nagar, adjacent to BKC, and the areas along the Mahim creek, Mahim Nature Park and finally the LBS road along the Central Railway tracks. Only 23 hectares of the 62 hectares can be developed, as most of it falls under the coastal regulation zone (CRZ). Also, no redevelopment activity can be carried out near the Mahim Nature Park.
Local groups, however, are not excited about the development. “Even now, the state is dithering on taking decisions that could easily speed up the work. Giving out 358 new houses in 11 years means hardly anything to the residents, who have been living in the unhygienic slums for decades,” said Raju Kode, president, Dharavi Bachao Samitee.