Coronavirus in Mumbai: Amidst rising cases, Jitendra Awhad bats for Dharavi redevelopment
Photo by BL Soni

Amidst the rise COVID-19 cases in the densely populated slum pockets of Dharavi, Maharashtra Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad has urged Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to take a decision on its redevelopment. The project entails an investment of Rs 28,500 crore.

Awahd, who recently recovered from the virus, told the Free Press Journal that Dharavi faces a severe shortage of health and hygiene facilities. The previous government had already announced the redevelopment of Dharavi and all formalities have been completed.

As on May 21, the count of cases in Dharavi has surged to 1,425. Under the present circumstances, if a decision is taken on its redevelopment, it will be politically, socially and economically beneficial to the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, the minister said. The redevelopment project would also generate employment and improve the economy. Further, it will also help the ailing realty sector to revive.

Awhad said he has appealed to the CM to call for a meeting to discuss the issue at the earliest.

BrihanMumbai Developers Association vice president Harish Jain said slum redevelopment has become quite crucial, especially in the wake of the pandemic. “Since Dharavi is a hotspot of COVID-19 its redevelopment needs to be urgently taken up. Dharavi, being the biggest slum of Asia, should be decongested by expediting redevelopment,’’ he noted.

The Dharavi redevelopment project has been hogging the headlines for almost the last 16 years. During the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) government, tenders were called but were later withdrawn. Only one multi storey building has been developed to rehouse some of the slum dwellers.

However, according to the plan approved during the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government in 2018, families in Dharavi will get a minimum 350 sq ft if they are currently residing in 300 sq ft homes. Tenements above 350 sq ft would get 450 sq ft homes. Above 500 sq ft, the owners will get 35 per cent extra area.

The Seclink Group was founded in 2017 and is based in UAE has bagged the project in February 2019, but it is currently locked in administrative wrangling. The Seclink Technology Corporation (STC) is a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), which will get Rs 28,500 crore in funds to revamp 600 acres. The company representatives had held talks with Thackeray in April, but it has yet to receive a contract letter from the government.

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