Not surprisingly, the Maharashtra State Government has been eager to redevelop Dharavi. Building affordable to mid-range housing projects here would completely reinvent the residential real estate equation of Central Mumbai and also make a major contribution to the Central Government's Housing for All by 2022 target. However, barring a few buildings constructed by MHADA in sector V, things have not progressed much on the Dharavi redevelopment front. Earlier, there was a lot of speculation that the Mumbai Development Plan (DP) would provide more clarity on this, but the ambiguity continued.

The plan was to divide Dharavi into five sectors for easier redevelopment. In October of this year, the state cabinet gave the green signal for redeveloping the entire 535 acres by setting up a special purpose vehicle (SPV) and floating just one global tender for the entire project (with 80% private sector and 20% government stakes).

Interestingly, the State Government also quashed its earlier plan of redeveloping Dharavi as only a residential cluster. Instead, it is now looking to transform the region into a hub for business and commercial activity as well. The Government has also extended fiscal sops and indirect subsidies to the project, including waiver of stamp duty on the development rights agreement and the first sale of the saleable area.

What it boils down to is that the INR 26,000 crore-worth Dharavi redevelopment project is repeatedly taking U-turns to attract developers into a highly complex, though potentially lucrative and definitely a game-changing undertaking. However, given the cash-crunch that developers are experiencing now, it seems unlikely that even large players will come forward and take up the challenge to build this highly cost-intensive mega project.

However, Dharavi is not an area of contention and confusion on the basis of costs alone. The biggest question is of land ownership and relocation of its existing inhabitants. In terms of land ownership, almost one-fifth of the land here is privately-owned. In terms of rehabilitating the existing occupants, one needs to keep in mind that as many as 60,000 families currently live in Dharavi.

As per the redevelopment policy, a developer can get the slum land only after obtaining permission to do so from at least 70% of the slum dwellers. Thereafter, he has to rehouse the slum dwellers free of cost in multi-storey tenements of at least 270 sq. ft. carpet area per household.