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Dharavi Goldmine

Covid-19 helps developers’ cause

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Dharavi. The moment one hears the name, a picture of ghastly slums and the den of some dreaded criminals appears in one’s mind. Dharavi is Asia’s biggest slum, covering 535 acres with a population of approximately one million and churning out business worth `7,000 crore, in the heart of Mumbai. Dharavi alone accounts for half the slums in the city with nearly 2.33 lakh shanties–the current market price of a shanty in this area is up to `12 lakh. This gives us a figure of nearly `27,965 crore. Indeed, it is a gold mine for anyone who gets it. Covid-19 appears to be a blessing in disguise for greedy builders and politicians of Maharashtra. Dharavi has always been in the schemes of every chief minister for redeveloping and rehabilitating residents. But many hurdles exist. First, there is complete opposition by the residents who do not want to relocate irrespective of the filth and spread of communicable deceases. Second, the opposition and influence of criminals, who easily hibernate in any eventuality as it is a godsent abode. The former Fadnavis government on June 1 2015, invited expressions of interest (EOI) for its `9,250- crore Dharavi Redevelopment Project (DRP), involving rehabilitating 57,000 families. “Over 100 companies participated in the bidding process, but nothing moved due to politics of many stakeholders. Adani infra and Dubai-based Sealink Group participated along with 20 bidders but due to the state assembly elections in Maharashtra, the deal never actualized. Covid-19 has now set up opportunity as an exodus has taken place due to fear and unemployment. Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar are both experienced leaders and could possibly shape up Dharavi. Stakes are high, so is the life of 57,000 families. Wait and watch whether greed will prevail or the have-nots will have a final say.

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