Mumbai: Goyal prevails on railway officials to hand over Dharavi land

The railways has two parcels of land abutting Dharavi. One, of 17 acres, is relatively unencumbered. The second, of 90 acres, has godowns, a scrap yard and encroachments. The state had sought all 107 acres to resettle shanty dwellers in transit camps during the redevelopment of Dharavi.

The railways, after reviewing operational requirements, has agreed to transfer around 45 acres, including portions of both properties.

Dharavi sits on a tri-junction of wards in central Mumbai, overlapping Mahim, Matunga and Sion, crisscrossed by railway lines and arterial roads. The deal was struck in the face of strong resistance from railway officials, some of whom feared it may engender allegations of graft, besides drawing adverse remarks from CAG for conceding prime land. Also, some said surrendering land close to railway tracks in the heart of the city may affect expansion plans. But, sources said, railway minister Piyush Goyal persisted and asked officials to work out the modalities.

A meeting was held on Sunday between chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Goyal, which was also attended by railway board chairman V K Yadav and chief secretary D K Jain.

The deal was sealed after much bargaining. Railways had sought an upfront payment of Rs.1,200 crore of the total Rs.3,800 crore, while the state was willing to pay Rs.800 crore. It was finally settled at Rs.1,000 crore, of which Rs.800 crore will be paid immediately and the balance in six months. Of the remaining, Rs.2,500 crore will come through profits generated from sale of surplus flats in the Dharavi project and the rest will be adjusted against construction costs of 850 units of railway quarters on the same land.

WR’s chief PRO Ravinder Bhakar said an MoU will soon be signed. Under the Dharavi revamp plan, a special purpose vehicle will be set up by the winning bidder and the state in 80:20 ratio. Global tenders were floated in November, inviting investment from private construction companies. DDA had set Rs.3,150 crore as base price.

Dubai-based Seclink Technology Corporation is the frontrunner as it quoted Rs.7,500 crore; Adani Infrastructure quoted Rs.4,529 crore. Sources said the state cabinet has withheld approval for the successful bidder as it wanted the railway deal to materialise first. On Monday too, railway and SRA officials had a meeting to prepare the draft of the MoU, to call for land measurements, etc.

A state source said, “Existing rail facilities on that land, like quarters, will be reconstructed with modern facilities on another piece of railway land; accommodation will be given to railways’ existing occupants. This will pave the way for speedy progress of the project.”

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