Dharavi resident Rani Nadar has been dreaming of having a home in a tall building right from her school days. However, the continuing delay in the redevelopment project has left her disheartened.
“We are tired of waiting for the project to begin. Dharavi redevelopment has become such a huge political issue,” said Nadar, 42, who lives with her husband and two daughters in a 100 sqft home.
While opposition parties have staged several demonstrations demanding 400 sqft homes for the residents, instead of the promised 300sqft ones, several Dharavi residents don’t care about the size of the house anymore. They just want the redevelopment work to go on without further delay. “The government is not willing to begin the work even on 300 sqft homes,” said Nadar.
“We would be overjoyed if we get 400 sqft homes, but how much longer should we wait for it? We would rather be living in a 300sqft home than waiting forever for a bigger one,”said another resident Gyanti Biskarma.
Meanwhile, activists believe that politicians do not really want Dharavi to develop. “There is no political will to redevelop Dharavi. There are protests from Opposition parties followed by delay by the state government. This cycle goes on,” said Raju Korde, founder, Dharavi Bachao Andolan.
On April 9, Shiv Sena had called for ‘Dharavi bandh’ to protest against the government for not promising 400 sq-ft homes to Dharavi residents. “Political leaders have been provoking residents to demand bigger homes. For hundreds of Dharavi residents, 300sqft area is enough, provided the work begins immediately,” said Ram Bharati, another resident.
However activists believe that residents are entitled to 400sq-ft homes. “As per technical aspects, we should be getting 400sqft houses. So these residents have a right to demand it,” said Korde.
It has been a bumpy ride for the redevelopment project, which had once attracted 101 builders, a number that has now dwindled to 7. After facing several hurdles and opposition from political parties, the redevelopment work finally began in November 2012. The first phase of the plan includes construction of 356 tenements in sector 5.