Mumbai: Following weeks of speculation on who’s in and who’s out of the Rs15,000 crore project to redevelop the Dharavi slum in Mumbai, a final list of 14 teams of developers has been compiled—after five teams opted out of the race, including the country’s largest slum redeveloper, Housing Development and Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL).
The 14 consortia, which are now eligible to bid for the project, went through a two-week process of presenting draft masterplans of how they would redevelop the 535-acre shantytown in Mumbai.
HDIL, which partnered with Lehman Brothers Holding Inc., was forced to opt out of the project, after the latter went bankrupt last year. “We were waiting for the HDIL team to make their presentation, which is a mandatory part of the technical evaluation process, but they didn’t respond. So, they are not a part of the project anymore,” said Gautam Chatterjee, chief executive officer of Dharavi Development Authority.
Weighing options: Dharavi Development Authority CEO Gautam Chatterjee said interesting aspects emerged from the presentations that the authority will consider while making the final master plan.
HDIL managing director Sarang Wadhawan, who had previously told Mint that the company will bid for all the five sectors to be redeveloped, even if it is eligible to develop only one, did not respond to calls or email. The company is also executing the massive relocation of 85,000 slum dwellers in Mumbai for a project by Mumbai International Airport Ltd.
Besides the HDIL-Lehman consortium, the other four teams that are not bidding anymore are Limitless Llc., Reliance Engineering Associates Pvt. Ltd-Urban Infrastructure Venture Capital Ltd, Larsen and Toubro Ltd-Godrej Properties Ltd and Hanwha Engineering and Construction Corp. Korea-Potential Group.
Chatterjee admitted that he was not expecting a “great” response owing to the ongoing financial downturn, which has put several developers in a serious liquidity crunch. Current market conditions may also slow the already-delayed project that has to be completed in seven years. “The winning bidders would be co-developers in the project and not mere contractors. So, if they want to go a little slow with the project, we will consider their opinion.”
The project, that promises to convert a giant cluster of shanties to a throbbing business district with modern housing, initially had attracted the interest of 19 shortlisted consortia, of which 14 are still in the running.
“Despite the economic conditions, (the) Dharavi (project) is still a viable business model, which is why we are still going ahead with it. The fact that it is a crucial project that will change the face of Mumbai is also a reason why we want to be associated with it,” said Abhisheck Lodha, director of Lodha Group, which has tied up with a Malaysian construction company LBS Bina Group Berhad as a technical partner. Lodha Group is planning to bid for two-three sectors out of the five in the project.
After the presentations have been made before a committee of experts comprising architects and urban planners, each team was given instant feedback and asked to incorporate them in their draft masterplans.
Chatterjee said a number of interesting aspects emerged from many of the presentations that the authority will consider while making the final master plan. “There are a number of international architects working with the teams, which gave rise to interesting ways of sewage treatment, rainwater harvesting and power conservation. There have also been suggestions of a monorail network connecting Dharavi and a road-over-road in the area for better exit and entry routes, which we will seriously work upon,” he said.
The real hurdle will be the financial evaluation process, after which final five teams will be selected, where each team will develop one sector, said property consultants. “Technical evaluation is always easy, but qualifying for the financial bids is the challenge. In such conditions, I think many of these teams would opt out eventually unless the government really lowers the bid amount and goes ahead with a project. Unless they have a very strong financial partner, even developers such as DLF and Unitech (cannot) execute this project when they themselves are in trouble,” said a property analyst with a Mumbai real-estate advisory, who didn’t want to be named.