Mumbai: Dharavi revamp hits roadblock, consortium threatens legal action

Neeraj Tiwari
Meanwhile, the consortium that inked an MoU with the government for the project is now threatening legal action over the delay in receiving the contract. (File/Express photo)

The plan to revamp Asia's largest slum, Dharavi, appears to have run into complications. A senior official of the Dharavi Redevelopment Authority (DRA) said the plan is being reconsidered as the state government had in March purchased 45 acres of land to add to the project. Meanwhile, the consortium that inked an MoU with the government for the project is now threatening legal action over the delay in receiving the contract.

There were only two bidders for the global tender when it opened in February - the Adani Group and the Dubai-based SECLINK group. SECLINK group become a frontrunner, quoting Rs 7,000 crore before signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). Two months later, SECLINK has sent a legal notice over the delay in receiving a letter of acceptance.

When asked about the delay in awarding the contract, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said his government was "not planning to scrap the tender, but we are working with Advocate General about the impact of railways' 45-acre plot which was recently included in the project".

Fadnavis said he had not received any legal notice. He further said a decision could be taken only after factoring in the additional 45 acres of land.

A member of SECLINK said the matter of the railway's land had been discussed in the pre-bid meeting conference, and that SECLINK had given a letter stating that it would bear the cost for whatever land the government purchased. He also said SECLINK would not participate if the government plans to scrap the tender and float it again.

"We will mount a legal battle," said the SECLINK member, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Another consortium member said nearly Rs 28,000 crore is needed to complete the Dharavi redevelopment project.

"Currently, real estate in the city is not in good condition but still we managed to get Rs 7,000 crore to sign the MoU. Yet, the government is not awarding the contract. That shows what kind of image our country is showing to the world".

Home to over 60,000 families, Dharavi stands on prime land in the heart of Mumbai, barely a stone's throw from India's richest business district, the Bandra Kurla Complex.

Dharavi's revamp - first planned in 2004 - has been on the agenda of every political party. The Maharashtra Cabinet had in October 2018 cleared a new makeover plan which, at an estimated cost of Rs 28,000 crore, will be the country's biggest slum resettlement project.