Dharavi residents to intensify protest as govt plans fresh bids for redevelopment – ET RealEstate

MUMBAI: Dharavi residents have decided to intensify their agitation following the state government’s plan to invite fresh bids for the redevelopment of the Asia’s largest slum. The core team of the Dharavi Redevelopment Committee, a federation of 52 associations of residents, has already taken a decision to approach the court against the government’s stand, its President Raju Korde said.

“We are yet to receive an official communication from the government, but if the state is rethinking about its decision, then we will intensify our agitation. We will be holding another meeting on September 3 with rest of the members to decide our next course of action,” he said.

Last year, former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had sought state advocate general’s opinion on whether to go for retendering after the government purchased the 45 acre land parcel at Matunga which was to be included in the project.

The opinion was sought after the Dharavi Redevelopment Authority, the special purpose vehicle appointed to implement the project had issued a letter of intent to Dubai-based Seclink Technologies Corporation, which was the highest bidder quoting around Rs 7,500 crore, while the second bid from Adani was lower at Rs 4,529 crore.

The AG had recommended inviting fresh bids for the project, which has already seen a delay of 16 years.

According to reports, the government has accepted the recommendations of the Advocate General and is planning to invite fresh bids for the project.

“We are unable to understand why the opinion (of AG) was sought when the land parcel in question was very much a part of the bid document. While bidding, we knew that the bidder will have to bear the cost of land acquisition, while the deal was to be sealed by the state and the railway authority. That is the reason why we had submitted a higher bid,” Seclink Group chairman and MD Nilang Shah said.

The land in question was not just a part of the bid document but had a mention in the state GR and was also discussed in the pre-bid meetings, he said.

The government had spent Rs 800 crore in buying the land parcel and had sought to recover the amount from the bidder as the deal materialised after the bidder was finalised.

“Moreover, the letter of intent was given to us, since we were the highest bidder, only after the land parcel was acquired by the government. If everything was going as per the procedure, how can the deal affect the sanctity of the project,” Shah asked.

He further said the tender is dynamic (evolving and not static) and therefore the lame excuse of the authority citing its unilateral action to obtain the railway land cannot be termed as parameter change and cancel the Dharavi redevelopment impacting lives of millions of people residing there.

“On one hand the Centre is inviting foreign investments in India and on the other hand if such bids are cancelled for reasons other than legal grounds then we are afraid that FDI will not come to the country,” Shah added.

He further said that the company, which is backed by the royal family of the UAE, has already achieved financial closure for the Rs 28,000 crore project and if it falls apart, Seclink will face a loss of over Rs 3,000 crore.

“If the government goes ahead with the cancellation of the bid, then we would have no option but to take legal recourse,” Shah noted.

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