The Dharavi makeover is in trouble again. Citizens have opposed a sub-committee’s recommendation that Sector 5 of India’s largest slum be the first on the bidding list for redevelopment. The slum was divided into five sectors as part of a Rs 15,000-crore makeover plan, with each sector being allotted to a different developer.
Residents said Sector 5 is technically not part of Dharavi. It was excluded from the original revamp plan. The only reason, they said, the sector was being developed was because it adjoins Bandra-Kurla Complex — a lucrative site for developers.
“Sector 5 has does not have a significant population density either,” said Raju Kode, president, Dharavi Bachao Samitee, which is against the revamp.
The Samitee called the revamp a sellout to the builders’ lobby. “Sector 5 was deliberately chosen due to its proximity to Bandra-Kurla Complex. If the government was serious about solving the slum problem, it would have taken up other sectors. This can hardly be a model for the revamp,” said Kode.
Sachin Ahir, minister of state for housing, said he has asked for the relevant file. “I will ensure the process is smooth,” he said.
Sector 5 has 9,300 hutments, the least among the sectors. A major part of it lies in two areas — Rajiv Gandhi Nagar and under power lines. Rajiv Gandhi Nagar falls under the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ), where development is not possible. Of the 62 hectares occupied by Sector 5, just 23 can be developed mainly due to CRZ norms.
This is not the first problem faced by the makeover conceived on February 4, 2004. Originally estimated at Rs 5,600 crore, the cost has jumped to Rs 15,000 crore. Koliwada and Kumbharwada areas opposed the scheme and were dropped from it. Following the slowdown and lack of clarity, several bidders dropped out — only seven of the original 19 remain. Also, it was found, most residents did not meet the government’s eligibility norms. This threatened to derail the entire process.
The sub-committee formed to ensure smooth implementation of the project recommended sector-wise bidding and chose Sector 5 for the first bids as it was least resistant to the revamp.
“Also, just 2 per cent of the area comprises industries compared to 70 per cent elsewhere,” said Jockin Arputham, convenor, Dharavi Vikas Samitee.
The Samitee said it would stage road blockades and hunger strikes from Wednesday to oppose the plan.