Two years after Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan called for transparency in the Dharavi redevelopment project, which is expected to transform one of Asia’s largest slums into a modern township, the revamp plan is finally moving forward.
Last week, the state housing department finalised the terms of reference for selecting a bid management consultant to redevelop four sectors of Dharavi.
Spread across 535 acres, Dharavi has been divided into five sectors, of which one – Sector 5 – is being redeveloped by the state through the Mhada.
The tender for the consultant is likely to be issued next month. However, many questions remain unanswered.
In 2011, Chavan had questioned the premise of cross-subsidisation, in which a developer pays a premium and is offered incentive floor space index or built-up area in exchange for rehabilitating slumdwellers. Estimates had shown that the construction cost in one sector with 9,000 slumdwellers would not exceed Rs2,000 crore, while the auction of land could earn Rs22,000 crore. After this, it was decided that Mhada would redevelop Sector 5.
“Using land to incentivise is problematic. The state will never get to exploit the value of the land through auction and developers will benefit more. But neither SRA [Slum Rehabilitation Authority] nor Mhada has the wherewithal to develop all sectors on its own by giving a contract,” said a senior official.
The committee set up in 2009, headed by former chief secretary DM Sukhtankar, had suggested a more piecemeal redevelopment. “Our committee recommended that redevelopment should be done in smaller clusters such as the existing ‘nagars’, with more local stake,” Sukhtankar said. Dharavi has around 85 nagars.
Chief secretary JK Banthia said breaking down the clusters was not feasible if one wanted integrated development. “We want to ensure integrated development, with developers creating the infrastructure – roads, drainage space, water supply, open spaces, clinics, schools. Developers can hand over the maintenance of the infrastructure to the civic body,” he said.
Banthia also questioned the need to retain all current industrial activities. ““Industrial sheds can be weaved into the plan to manage pollution better, but a decision has to be taken on whether some of these polluting activities should continue in the middle of the city.”
He added that the state was looking at a more fool-proof bid document, one with stronger compliance guidelines, penalties, more revenue for state and clear risk-sharing plans.