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DH Exclusive: UAE firm-funded Dharavi makeover project to combat coronavirus may take off soon

DH Exclusive
Last Updated 12 April 2020, 05:03 IST

The redevelopment plan of Dharavi in Mumbai — Asia’s largest slum — costing Rs 28,500 crore is likely to take off soon, with the change of guard in Maharashtra and the coronavirus outbreak in the city.

Three sources in the know confirmed to DH that there has been substantial progress in the redevelopment talks between Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and executives from Dubai-based urban revitalisation firm SecLink Technologies Corporation (STC), which is funded by the royal family of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“We are expecting a contract letter to come anytime now. The company held various meetings with the CM, and they were positive. Due to the COVID situation, it might get delayed though,” a source in the company said.

There has been a clamour for the redevelopment of the slums in the wake of coronavirus outbreak, as the country has realised that the threat of the pandemic’s spread can increase manifold in congested slums.

According to the plan, which was approved in 2018, the families in Dharavi will get a minimum 350 sq feet if they are currently living in 300 sq feet homes. Tenements above 350 sq ft would get 405 sq ft homes and above 500 sq ft, the owners will get 35% extra area.

As part of the social responsibility project, the company on Friday wrote to the Maharashtra chief minister offering masks and sanitisers in the township along with random testing.

“Given the scale of the problem, we will need to mobilise a lot of resources quickly to make this happen. SecLink is backed by social impact investors whose vision is human upliftment through urban revitalisation,” the letter to the CM, in possession of DH, stated.

The project has faced a lot of hiccups. In February, the company had warned that it will seek a compensation of Rs 2,299 crore ($320 million) if the project was not awarded on time -- forcing the Prime Minister’s Office and Commerce Ministry to swing into action.

Interestingly, the company had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in July 2019 (which is in possession of DH), after which Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri met the executives from the company -- but no decision was taken.

The STC had bagged this project in the tendering process as it quoted Rs 7,200 crore, outbidding its competitor Gautam Adani-controlled Adani Infrastructure, which bid at Rs 4,539 crore. In the letter dated March 8, 2019, the company was told by the Slum Rehabilitation Authority that they were the highest bidders and had invited members from the royal family to finalise the negotiation.

The STC is a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), which will get Rs 28,500 crore in funds to revamp 600 acres.

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(Published 11 April 2020, 18:40 IST)

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