Dharavi revamp exposes great divide among residents

  • Naresh Kamath, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Mar 15, 2016 00:35 IST

The state government’s ambitious plan to revamp India’s largest slum has ruffled the feathers of those living in buildings at Dharavi. Reason: They are unhappy about being clubbed with slum dwellers. According to those living in buildings and chawls, the government’s plan to give them 350 sqft houses like the slum dwellers was incorrect.

“We have been paying monthly rent and staying in legal chawls and buildings. How can the government give us the same area as slum dwellers? We ought to be given more,” said Reedon Fernando, who lives in Sector No 1, which has more buildings and chawls than slums. These building residents are living in 250-600 sqft houses.

Many areas such as Dr Baliga Nagar, Shahu Nagar and Matunga labour camp have asked the DRA to exclude their structures from the revamp. “While the whole island city can benefit from the cluster redevelopment scheme and are getting bigger houses, we are being deprived of the same. We are already a developed area and hence there is no need for the DRP to plan for us,” said Charles Antonio, secretary, Dr Baliga Nagar Residents Association. Baliga Nagar is spread across 3.50 acres, has 338 apartments and 93 shops along with a well-equipped community hall, playgrounds and a gymnasium. “Let us choose our own builders like the rest of the city,” he said.

The Dharavi Redevelopment Authority (DRA), however, says this scheme will encompass buildings and chawls. “If we go on excluding areas, then the planning will go awry and the scheme will not take off at all,” said Nirmalkumar Deshmukh, CEO, DRA. “The problem is some builders have given misleading promises to the residents, promising them bigger apartments. This won’t be possible,” he said.

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