In what could lead to further delays in the redevelopment of Dharavi, the Maharashtra Cabinet on Thursday cancelled the ongoing tender process of the renovation project of one of Asia’s largest slums, and announced that it would call for new tenders.
An official statement said the State government has acted upon the recommendations of the Advocate General (AG). A committee of secretaries (CoS) led by Chief Secretary Sanjay Kumar too had recommended scrapping of existing tenders and starting the process anew.
The first tender of the redevelopment project was allotted to Dubai-based Seclink Technologies Corporation which was the highest bidder at ₹7,500 crore. The second bid was from the Adani group at ₹4,529 crore.
The previous Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government had sought the AG’s opinion after a 45-acre plot at Matunga, which was earlier with the Railways, was included as part of the project. The AG had then recommended that the entire tender process be conducted again. This was also accepted by the CoS. The Cabinet on Thursday sanctioned the same.
According to sources within the Housing Department, which will be executing the project, Seclink Technologies Corporation, has already expressed displeasure over seeking the AG’s opinion and the recommendation that followed. “We will have to see how they react,” said an official, when asked whether the company was taken into confidence before cancelling the tender process.
The Dharavi Redevelopment Project is worth around ₹28,000 crore, said to be one of the biggest in the country. Situated in the heart of Mumbai, Dharavi is one of the biggest slums of Asia and its redevelopment is pending for the last 16 years. Following the novel coronavirus outbreak, which further exposed the inadequate sanitation and health facilities in the area, demands were made to fast forward the redevelopment. Thursday’s decision, however, is likely to delay the project further.
Rules modified for cessed buildings
The Cabinet on Thursday also modified the rules for the redevelopment of around 14,500 cessed buildings in Mumbai. Cessed buildings are those for which the government collects tax for a repair fund. These buildings were mainly built before Independence, and the concept is limited to island city and not the suburbs.
As per the new rules, the housing department will issue guidelines to fix the eligibility of the developer. The owner/developer will have to deposit in advance one year’s rent, to be given to residents, in the Escrow account, and also for subsequent years. The project will have to be completed within three to five years.