Not a single brick laid but the bills for Dharavi’s makeover are mounting.
The Dharavi Redevelopment Authority — a state government body — has already paid Rs consultant Mukesh Mehta Rs 12.2 crore. Mehta has now presented a fresh bill of Rs 8.25 crore.
The DRA had agreed to pay Mehta, who mooted the makeover plan, Rs 56 crore or 1 per cent of the initial project cost of Rs 5,600 crore. Of this, Rs 14 crore was to be paid before tenders were opened and the rest in slabs as the construction work progressed.
Mehta was paid Rs 12.2 crore until March 2010 and the rest was to be paid later. Tenders, however, were not opened due to several obstacles.
Last year, Mehta gave the DRA a bill of Rs 5.05 crore as compensation for maintaining his staff. While this claim is before an arbitration panel, the DRA has forwarded the details of the second bill to the government.
Mehta claimed his company, MM Consultants Private Limited, has done extra and repetitive work in the last one year, including assisting in verification and survey of slum dwellers eligible for homes, preparation of the land use plan and the report on floor space index consumption at Dharavi.
“It is a part of the job and it is an unjustified demand,” a senior DRA official told Hindustan Times, reacting to Mehta’s fresh demand.
Mehta refused to comment saying the issue was before the arbitrators.
Minister of State for Housing Sachin Ahir said: “There is no progress on the project but our consultant is demanding more money. We will have to study the proposal.”
The Dharavi revamp plan, conceived in February 2004, divides the 535-acre slum into five sectors for constructing a modern township.
The project, however, ran into many hurdles. Twelve of the 19 developers initially shortlisted pulled out due to delays. Then, the preliminary eligibility survey in one sector revealed that more than 63 per cent of the people were not eligible for rehabilitation. The third hurdle surfaced when the state appointed expert committee recommended that the project be scrapped and sought Mehta’s removal.
The Dharavi Bachaao Samiti, a local citizens’ group, has blamed the government for the problems. “The state takes decisions arbitrarily and keeps us in the dark,” said the Samiti’s president, Raju Kode. “The whole planning is a waste of public money.”