The Dharavi redevelopment project is yet to take off but the state wants to make an ad-hoc payment of Rs 1.4 crore to project consultant Mukesh Mehta, contrary to the conditions of the contract.
The state has issued a Government Resolution (GR) directing the Dharavi Redevelopment
Authority (DRA) to pay the amount to M M Project Consultants, headed by Mehta. The GR also calls for the appointment of an arbitrator to solve other monetary issues between DRA and M M Consultants.
The GR’s reason for this payment: “To ensure smooth implementation of redevelopment of India’s largest slum”.
It adds that the consultant has satisfactorily completed its work and is not responsible for the delay of the project. It also says Mehta has written to the government on several occasions citing financial problems.
A DRA official requesting anonymity said: “It is surprising that the state has issued a GR to pay a private firm. The DRA has already paid the firm Rs 11.2 crore. The whole idea of an arbitrator is strange. Why was the amount paid in the first place if an arbitrator was being appointed?” he said.
Mehta asked the DRA to pay the remaining pre-tender amount of Rs 2.8 crore. The DRA refused, saying the contract says this amount should be paid only after the bidding process is complete. Mehta also demanded Rs 5.05 crore as delay compensation from the DRA, which the DRA also rejected.
Mehta said he is a victim of the delayed project. “In November 2008, when I signed the agreement, I was promised that the bidders would be chosen within a month but the project was delayed for no fault of mine. We were asked to redo many things that were originally approved, resulting in my present cash crunch,” he added.
The Rs 15,000 crore Dharavi revamp has been stuck since six years. Last year, a preliminary survey found 63 per cent of its hutments dwellers ineligible for rehabilitation.