Maha scraps Dharavi redevelopment tender, to invite fresh bids

Mumbai, Oct 29 (IANS) In a significant development, the Maharashtra cabinet, presided over by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, on Thursday decided to scrap the tendering process for the ambitious redevelopment of Dharavi — the slum area situated in heart of Mumbai and Asia’s largest — and invite fresh bids, officials said.
With this, the earlier process of inviting global tenders in October 2018 for the multi-thousand crore project stands cancelled, as per a decision of a Committee of Secretaries, and the subsequent opinion of the state Advocate General, said officials.
The new tendering process – which could ignite another controversy between the Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress Maha Vikas Aghadi and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party – would be initiated after making certain amendments to the terms and conditions.
The new bids would include the issue of transfer of 45 acres of railway land for the redevelopment mega-project, languishing in the last 16 years, even as local Dharavi groups of people cried foul over the move.
The erstwhile BJP-Shiv Sena government headed by Chief Minister and current Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis had cleared the final decision in October 2018.
At that time, the Dubai-based Seclink Technologies Corporation had emerged as the highest bidder at around Rs 7,200 crore for the project which would involve free houses for the locals.
Since 1972, several projects have been undertaken to transform Dharavi – spread across 2.25 square km and housing nearly 10 lakh people and thousands of business units.
First, there was the Slum Improvement Project of 1972, followed by the Slum Upgradation Project in 1985, the Slum Rehabilitation Scheme of 1995, and the Dharavi Redevelopment Project floated in 2004 which saw several modifications before the last one in 2018, the tendering process of which has been halted.
Dharavi Rehabilitation Committee President Raju Korde slammed the latest move, saying the dream of people in Dharavi for a better life will never be realized from what was billed as the biggest redevelopment project in the world.
“It has been delayed for 16 years, now with the latest decision, it will be again hampered for another 16 years… The people continue to suffer,” Korde told IANS.
Situated between Sion-Matunga stations of Central Railway and Mahim-Bandra on Western Railway, Dharavi is world-famous on various counts, including its business enterprises in leather, textiles, pottery and fabrication.
Having an estimated 5,000 business units and over 15,000 minor enterprises, the goods produced here are exported globally from the highly congested and most densely populated district in the world.
An important political borough for all parties, Dharavi has been the subject of several films, documentaries and books over the years, and has been recently in the limelight again for winning laurels over its achievements in containing the Covid-19 pandemic, as the state heaved a sigh of relief.

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