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Dharavi plan nod

Mumbai, Jan. 21: Where there is Asia’s greatest slum today, there may be a spanking new township tomorrow.

The Maharashtra government has in principle approved a plan to develop the whole of Dharavi. The plan will soon be placed before the cabinet for approval.

“We are very excited with the decision of the Maharashtra cabinet to proceed with the project,” says its architect Mukesh Mehta.

This is the first such plan to get the government’s support and it comes soon after Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee promised Rs 500 crore to develop Dharavi on a recent visit to the city.

The plan, says Mehta, is a Rs 7,000-crore project. It will divide Dharavi into 12 sectors and create residential areas, schools, community centres, commercial centres and industrial zones.

But there is scepticism about the plan. “We have had many plans. How many of them work out'” asks environmentalist Devi Goenka, who keeps a watch on slum rehabilitation projects. “There are many hurdles between cabinet approval and other government clearances, too.”

Another activist says that such a huge plan would draw land sharks in large numbers, as Dharavi is prime property.

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