The slum cluster Dharavi, which happens to be the largest in Asia has attracted both capitalists and artists. It has been the muse of â€œSlumdog Millionaireâ€ and countless novels such as â€œShataramâ€ by Gregory David Roberts.
It has also fed to the fantasies of fabulous development. The 100,000 housing cluster is located in the belt between Kurla Bandra and the Bombay airport, making it a prime location. The extent of the area makes any deal to develop the place a lucrative one for the developers.
The Maharashtra government had given in to these schemes in 2004, approving a redevelopment plan that was supposed to benefit 60,000 people. The plan never took off. One of the reasons given was that around 20% of the land was privately owned.
Now, with elections around the corner, CM Prithviraj Chavan has given new life to the idea announcing another redevelopment plan. The plan envisages the development of the government owned land over a 7 year period.
He said the state’s apex housing body, Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) will be the nodal agency to re-develop it systematically, within seven years. The congested shanties and dilapidated tenements in Dharavi would be re-developed as clusters of 300 square feet carpet area each.
He said that the state government had given the go-ahead for the Dharavi re-development project – spread across 535 hectares – but it did not register any significant progress. “We have now given a boost for the project. It is poised to change the face of Dharavi,” Chavan said.
A corpus fund would be set up for the purpose and the state Development Control Rules will be amended. All this is necessary, because Dharavi, with its nearly 1.2 million population represents a sizeable part of the constituency. The place simply canâ€™t be torn down.
The development is to begin in the sector 5 of the Dharavi area which is largely government owned. Apart from creating apartment clusters, the plan also calls for the development of parks, public toilets and playgrounds. The earlier plan was to benefit only the dwellers, leaving businesses out in to the cold. Â Now, the state plans to invite competitive bids for the re-development proposal which will benefit businesses as well.
Whether the plan would actually be implemented or a new problem will arise will only be clear once the municipal elections are over.