MUMBAI: Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum has turned the capital of COVID-19 positive cases and deaths. However, Maharashtra housing minister has requested chief minister Uddhav Thackeray to turn this crisis into an opportunity by undertaking the redevelopment of Dharavi.
Maharashtra Housing minister Jitendra Awhad has written to chief minister Uddhav Thackeray that Maharashtra government should speedily undertake the redevelopment of Asia’s largest slum that has now become an epicenter of COVID 19 positive cases. In Dharavi, a total of 1425 COVID 19 cases have been reported.
Awhad said that congestion, lack of ventilation and common toilet are major reasons behind the rise of COVID-19 positive cases. He said that if the redevelopment of Dharavi is undertaken without any delay, the crumbling business sector of this area will get a boost and economy will be back on track.
More than 15 lakh people are residing officially in the 550 acres of land. However, the unofficial population count in the slum is 20 to 25 lakh. The redevelopment project of Dharavi has been pending from the last 20 years.
Awhad said that the area of health is one of the major issues in Dharavi. “In the COVID-19 crisis, the area of health in Dharavi has crumbled. People are not getting the proper health facilities and that has to created an adverse impact. We as the government should take a positive step by changing the face of Dharavi,” housing minister said.
He said that people of all sections and religions are staying in Dharavi. “In the lockdown, many of them lost their jobs and migrant workers of these areas left Dharavi. We have to bring back the confidence among the migrants and residents of Dharavi by giving them proper residence with bathroom and toilet attached. Public hygiene is very important during a pandemic like a crisis,” the housing minister pointed out.
Interestingly, every government of BJP, Congress and NCP tried to carry out the redevelopment of Dharavi but developers lobby blocked it. The reason was that the redevelopment of Dharavi can allow for the construction of an additional one lakh houses even after rehabilitations of the local residents and this could impact the housing prices in Mumbai.