After years of delay, one of Mumbai’s largest slum clusters — Dharavi — may finally see a transformation. The Maharashtra government, nearly a year after coming to power, approved the Dharavi redevelopment plan, an ambitious blueprint for the renewal of the area in a planned manner.
Last month, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis cleared the plan that had been pending with his office since his predecessor’s days. The plan envisages the redevelopment of a large part of the 593-acre Dharavi node, which includes residential, commercial as well as industrial units, among others.
But even with the chief minister’s approval, the plan’s future continues to be a bit uncertain. Much against ally Shiv Sena’s demands, Fadnavis has approved providing 300 sqft area homes to locals living in the area. For years now, the Sena has been vocal in its demand for the homes to be at least 400 sqft in size after redevelopment.
The issue may now become a new flashpoint between the Sena and BJP, especially in the run up to the 2017 civic polls. “The issue has very strong emotive appeal in the area and we have made it a matter of pride to get them 400 sqft homes. We won’t let the issue rest with this,” said a Sena leader.
However, officials of the Dharavi redevelopment authority (DRA) had ruled this demand out, calling it unfeasible. Sources said Fadnavis, who had initially said the state was trying to work out a way of giving 400 sqft homes, finally decided they were not feasible.
“We’d have to redraw the entire project for houses that size,” said an official, privy to the decision.
The other factor that went against the demand was the height cap imposed for buildings in the area by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
Even locals have been firm in their demand about getting 400 sqft homes. Little wonder then that Fadnavis’ approval to the plan has not brought much cheer to these quarters. “We are very disappointed with this government’s decision of giving us smaller homes. We won’t allow the project to go through if we aren’t given 400 sqft homes,” said Baburao Mane, president of the Dharavi Bachao Samiti, a committee of local residents, who have been actively involved in deliberations about the project.
The other teething issue that remains pending with the state is the project model. “We are yet to take a call on whether we should appoint a contractor-builder or split the profits with a builder, like we do in the slum rehabilitation authority (SRA) projects,” said a senior official of the urban development department.
(With inputs from Naresh Kamath)