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Dharavi revamp to see more delay as Maharashtra govt plans to float new tenders

By Naresh Kamath, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON AUG 28, 2020 02:26 AM IST

The Dharavi revamp project, which aims to transform India’s largest slum into a plush township, is likely to suffer a huge setback, as the state government is planning to scrap the existing tender, which was bagged by the United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based SecLink Technology Corporation (STC), and float a fresh tender.

The ambitious 28,000 crore Dharavi revamp project, conceived 16 years ago, is likely to be delayed further if the new tenders are floated.

The issue was discussed on Thursday by the committee of secretaries (CoS), which supported the view presented by advocate general (AG) Ashutosh Kumbhakoni in January. The AG said that fresh tenders needed to be called for as the costs of the railway land and rehabilitation was added later and not incorporated in the original tender document.

In February last year, the tender to revamp the 601-acre project was bagged by STC and funded by the UAE royal family. However, the problem emerged in March when the state government led by Devendra Fadnavis acquired a 45-acre railway land for 800 crore. As this was not mentioned in the tender, AG’s views were sought on the development.

STC, which threatened to seek a compensation of 2,299 crore from the state if it was not awarded the contract, however, took a U-turn. “We will respect the government’s decision and bid again for the project,” said an STC spokesperson.

Dharavi residents are disappointed over the plan to float new bids.

“We have been shown dreams of new houses from the past 16 years and now when the project was about to start, they added a new clause and derailed it,” said Raju Korde, president, Dharavi Redevelopment Committee.

He said the residents will approach the courts, as this is deliberately being done to deprive Dharavi residents of redevelopment.

Baburao Mane, who heads the Dharavi Bachao Andolan, says it is doubtful if a new firm can bag the project.

“What was the reason behind not giving a green signal to SecLink, considering it had bought in the money and had the competency to execute the mega project? Currently, no one has this huge capital to invest in Dharavi,” said Mane.

Mane’s worry is legit as STC had deposited 28,000 crore in an escrow account in Dubai and was waiting for the green signal from the state.

The Dharavi revamp project commenced on February 4, 2004, but has been marred with controversies, with one of the key issues being the eligibility for the redeveloped flats, as it was found that majority of the present residents did not qualify for the new houses. The constant flip-flops by the government have also driven away many builders.

What is the Dharavi revamp scheme

The ambitious Dharavi revamp project which started on February 4, 2004, envisaged a plush township by architect Mukesh Mehta. The slum was divided into five sectors and it was decided to issue tenders simultaneously for each sector. The state government formed the Dharavi Redevelopment Authority (DRA) and also floated a global tender for all the sectors in 2007. The response was outstanding, as 101 companies took part in the process. However, over the years, the project kept languishing and finally in 2011, the entire process was cancelled. The same year, the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada) was given Sector 5, while the tenders for the other sectors were floated for this year. In 2018, the sector plan was scrapped and it was decided to float tenders for the entire area.

February 4, 2004 Dharavi Redevelopment Project planned by the state government

June 1, 2007 Global tenders for expression of interest invited for the Dharavi Project. Nineteen consortiums selected after due process

March 2009 Global slowdown forces five firms to walk out of the process, citing lack of clarity and delay in implementation

July 7, 2009 Expert committee debunks the project and passes adverse remarks against its consultant. The committee also calls the scheme a ‘sophisticated land grab

October 16, 2009 Of the 14 bidders, only seven submit the memorandum of understanding (MoU) that they have signed with their foreign partners, leaving only such contenders in the fray

October 16, 2009 BMC submits a preliminary survey report stating that 63% of the home seekers are found to be ineligible for the project. The projects suffer a setback as 37% buyers will get new houses

February 2, 2010 A sub-committee of secretaries recommend for sector-wise redevelopment of Dharavi

June 11, 2010 Mhada submits proposal to the state, seeking to redevelop Sector 5 of Dharavi

May 21, 2011 Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan clears the proposal

Nov 1, 2012 Residents force Mhada to cancel the bhoomi pujan

May 3, 2016 266 families move to new houses constructed by Mhada in Sector 5

July 31, 2016 Dharavi revamp fails to attract any bidder for the fourth time

June 2017 DRA comes with a proposal to form 13 sub-clusters and float tenders for it

September 16, 2018 State decides to form special purpose vehicle (SPV) and floats tenders for entire Dharavi

October 2018 State government revives the revamp plan and scraps the sector-wise revamp and puts Dharavi as one unit. State announces that it will become a partner in the redevelopment process

January 2019 Two bidders— Seclink Technology Corporation (STC) and Adani Infrastructure — are shortlisted for the project

February 2019 The empowered committee of secretaries selects STC for the revamp

March 2019 MoU signed with railway land development authority to procure 45 acres of land

June 2019 As railway land is acquired, opinion sought from advocate general on the status of tender

January 2020 Advocate general recommends retendering of the project

August 2020: Committee of secretaries recommends cancellation of 2019 tender and issuance of new ones.

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