Dharavi redevelopment project gets rolling

Dharavi redevelopment project gets rolling

The Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) floated global tenders for the nearly Rs 20,000-crore Dharavi Redevelopment Project

The Maharashtra government has set the ball rolling for the mega-project involving the redevelopment of Dharavi, which would see a transformation of the world's largest slum into an integrated planned township.

The Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) floated global tenders for the nearly Rs 20,000-crore Dharavi Redevelopment Project (DRP) that attempts to give a major facelift to nearly 240-hectare area.

According to the bidding notice issued by S V R Srinivas, the chief executive officer of the SRA and officer on special duty for the DRP, the last date of submission of bids is December 28.

The locality of Dharavi is spread across the Sion-Matunga stations of the Central Railway and Bandra-Mahim on the Western Railway.

It is also a business hub, and the turnover from here is difficult to estimate as it is mainly in the informal sector.

Over the last few years, several initiatives were taken to give Dharavi a makeover, however, they has not met expectations.

The face-lift is not an easy task because in terms the population density of Dharavi is among the highest in the world.  

It's home to over 60,000 to 70,000 families and in terms of demography, it wouldn't be wrong to describe it as a mini-India.

It has several business units right from textiles to pottery and fabrication to the leather industry.

Plastic recycling and garbage segregation too is done here.

It has an estimated 5,000 business entities and 15,000 single-room factories. Goods produced here go to Middle East, Southeast Asia, United States, Europe and several other places.

Slum Improvement Project of 1972 and 1976, Slum Upgradation Project of 1985, Slum Rehabilitation Scheme of 1995 and the Dharavi Redevelopment Project of 2004, that saw several changes, were the projects taken up to upgrade the locality.

However, the face of Dharavi has never changed.

The slum has 28 temples, 11 mosques, 6 churches, 50 banks and 60 government schools and it also houses a mobile design museum, where people showcase their products.

Dharavi has a small fort known as the Riwa Fort, also known as Kala Qilla or Black Fort, which is currently in a dilapidated condition.

It was built by the first governor of Bombay, Gerald Aungier (1669–1677). It was part of the larger Bombay Castle, and marked the northern portion of British-held Bombay in the 17th century.

The castle was also used as a watchtower, guarding the territory against the Portuguese-held (and later Maratha-held) Salsette Island.

Back then, what is now Dharavi was a large swamp and primarily inhabited by Koli fishermen.

As the legend goes, the British built a dam on the Mithi river which stopped water flow feeding the swamp, which eventually dried.

The fishermen near the sea and a community of potters moved in and in fact they could be called the first settlers of the region.

As Mumbai turned into a textile hub, thousands from north India moved in as well and the slum as we know it started to take shape and eventually since the sixties, migrants started moving in, making what Dharavi is today.