The realty truth about Dharavi

  • Naresh Kamath, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Mar 15, 2016 00:16 IST

If things go according to plan, the long-awaited project to redevelop the slums of Dharavi will begin in the next four months.

The Dharavi Redevelopment Project (DRP) will take things ahead after four major developers are selected next month. To ensure the project does not get delayed any further, the Dharavi Redevelopment Authority (DRA) has mandated the selected developer has to start the work within 90 days of his selection.

The Dharavi Redevelopment Authority (DRA) has floated a global tender of Rs22,000 crore calling bids to revamp the area.

The global tender has been floated for four sectors. Sector 5 is already being redeveloped by the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada).

The state government aims to make an example out of Dharavi — how a slum is transformed into a planned locality that houses residential and commercial towers with sound infrastructure to support it. Since the area has a high commercial value — it is closer to the airport and commercial hub of the Bandra-Kurla Complex — most top real estate developers are interested in the project.

But in midst of all this, residents are still unaware of the project.

Jagdish Valmiki, 58, who has spent his entire life in Dharavi, is a bitter man. “We are still unaware of this project. Despite being the affected parties, we are never taken into confidence and there is lot of confusion even now,” said Valmiki.

Despite being the biggest stakeholders, the residents are wary about getting a fair deal. A major reason why this project was moving at a slow speed was opposition from slum dwellers and the lack of unanimity between political parties.

For many residents, the confusion is more compounded by the lack of communication between them and the DRP.

“There are more than two lakh hutments in Dharavi, while the DRP says they will give houses only to 59,165. Where will the rest go? Will you just throw out the rest,” said Nambiraja Pariayar, a social worker in the area. Pariayar said in the initial survey in Sector 3, a staggering 63% of slum dwellers were found to be ineligible. He accused the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) of distributing photo passes even to those residing in mezzanine floors.

“What will happen to these people who are hoping for a new house?” he said. The DRP, however, has sought to assuage the fears saying the plan will be unveiled shortly. “We are in the stage of planning and the final plan will be shown shortly to the residents,” said Nirmalkumar Deshmukh, CEO, DRA. He said the mezzanine floors will not be counted as a slum and these residents will not be given houses.

Another major demand of residents is to get at least 500-750 sqft houses instead of 350 sqft, which the DRP has announced.

“Our families have grown over the years and because both the developer and government will make a lot of money, they should give us at least 500-750 sqft houses,” said Vivek Kamble, who lives in Shahu Nagar.

The DRA has rejected the claim of extra space saying the revamp will improve the living standards of the people. “They are already getting bigger houses compared to the rest of the slum dwellers across the city. The project will help them to move to a cleaner environment,” said Deshmukh.

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