The Rs15,000-crore Dharavi redevelopment project has been faltering ever since plans to convert the country’s largest slum into a world-class township were unveiled three years ago. A sub-committee of the Dharavi Development Authority has now suggested phase-wise redevelopment, instead of calling bids for all the five sectors in which Dharavi has been divided. The sub-committee was set up to debate the pros and cons of redeveloping Dharavi by dividing it into 32 sectors vis-a-vis the original plan to develop the slum in five sectors. With only seven of the 14 bidders left in the fray, the committee felt this was the best alternative to losing face by calling fresh global bids. Sources say the committee made the suggestion as it felt that by inviting bids for only one sector at a time, the government will get be able to prevent developers from forming a cartel to bag the entire area. A state-appointed committee of experts under former chief secretary DM Sukhtankar had said the project is a “sophisticated land grab” meant to benefit the builders more than the slum dwellers. The committee proposed that the government assist slum dwellers to form societies and redevelop it by choosing a developer on their own. However, government officials say the idea is flawed as banks are not willing to give funds to slum dwellers without a moratorium.
May 18, 2009