Dharavi Redevelopment Project: Mulund Is ‘Just One Option’ For Displaced Locals, Says Maharashtra Housing Minister Atul Save

Dharavi Redevelopment Project: Mulund Is ‘Just One Option’ For Displaced Locals, Says Maharashtra Housing Minister Atul Save

No final decision has been taken by the government vis-à-vis the 64 acres of land in Mulund for the rehabilitation/construction of rental housing for ineligible Dharavikars, Atul Save said.

Draupadi RoheraUpdated: Thursday, January 18, 2024, 09:26 PM IST
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Dharavi | Salman Ansari

Even as the battle for Dharavi is hotting up and residents are gearing up for the big battle, Housing Minister Atul Save in an exclusive to The Free Press Journal has clarified that no final decision has been taken by the government vis-à-vis the 64 acres of land in Mulund for the rehabilitation/construction of rental housing for ineligible Dharavikars.

Save confirmed that the housing ministry has directed the BMC to make Mulund parcels (46 acres near Mulund dumping ground and 18 acres near Jakat Toll Naka) available for rental housing but a final call on whether it will be used for rehabilitation of Dharavikars is yet to be confirmed. “Whatever the government decides, it will be after talking to the locals,” he said.

“We are exploring several land options in Mumbai. Whenever there is a big redevelopment project, locals have to be moved and allotted temporary housing. That’s a given. Which is why we are on the lookout for available land pockets and Mulund happens to be just one option.”

The minister said that the people of Dharavi will be taken into confidence. “We will sit with them and flesh this out before moving them anywhere. I would like to assure them that their views will be considered,” he said.

Save added that a survey by the Dharavi Redevelopment Project Private Limited (DRPPL) is yet to be undertaken to decide on eligible and non-eligible residents. “This figure of four lakh Dharavikars mentioned in the letter is a rough figure, since we don’t have the exact numbers pending the survey”, he said.

The Housing Department, in a letter dated January 10 to the Urban Development Department and the BMC, has directed that the land be handed over to DRPPL as per a state support agreement wherein the government has agreed to help with land acquisition for the project. DRPPL is a joint venture between Adani Group and the government.

The letter says that DRPPL has to build rental housing for residents found ineligible for free housing. “Rental housing is to be constructed for around three-four lakh ineligible people,” it says.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson of DRPPL told The Free Press Journal that the survey to decide on eligibility of residents will be taken in the first week of February. He, however, refused to comment on the letter / communication between the housing ministry and the BMC, saying that it was an internal matter of the government. “We have nothing to do with it,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dharavi residents are now gearing up to take the battle to the streets. Up till now the fight was political with Shiv Sena leader Udhav Thackeray and Congress MLA from Dharavi Varsha Gaikwad raising the issue. From now on it’s going to go public. “Hum raaste par utrenge,” warned Babbu Khan, a local corporator who happens to belong to Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s faction.

‘Vyapari mahasabha’

The air in Asia’s biggest slum is thick with confusion and chaos. “Ek hulchul ho rahi hai. Kisi ko kuchh pata hi nahi ki sarkar kya karne ja rahi hai our ye Navi Dharavi kya hai?,” said Imam Azam Khan, member of the Dharavi Businessmen’s Association.

Kalim Ansari, president, Dharavi Garment Association, told the FPJ that a “vyapari mahasabha” of all merchants and commercial / industrial units in Dharavi has been organised on Saturday to discuss the Mulund issue. “We want clarity from the government as to what is going on. They cannot keep us in the dark vis-a-vis decisions that affect our lives and livelihoods,” he said.

The meeting will be attended by all commercial and industrial units including leather, plastic, garment and pottery.

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