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'Biggest loot': Congress on Dharavi project contract to Adani Group

New Delhi: The Congress Sunday slammed the government over the Dharavi redevelopment project being given to the Adani group, saying this is an example of how the conglomerate is getting enriched at the expense of people.

The Congress’ attack came a day after a protest was held in Mumbai against the Dharavi redevelopment project being helmed by the Adani group. It said ‘the biggest loot in modern India continues’ in full public gaze with the ‘complete support’ of the ruling party.

Former Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has alleged it was the ‘world’s biggest Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) scam’.

In a statement, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh alleged that the unique quality of the ‘Modani Mega Scam’ is not just that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is channeling lakhs of crores towards his ‘close friends’ and creating a Modi-Made Monopoly (3M), but that the money is coming straight from the pockets of ordinary Indians.

‘We already know that the inflated cost of over-invoiced coal imports is being borne by lakhs of electricity consumers and that middle-class travellers are paying Modani’s inflated airport charges,’ he said.

The Congress has been attacking the Adani Group, accusing it of wrongly benefitting from the BJP government. The party has been demanding a joint parliamentary committee probe into the allegations of stock manipulation made by US research group Hindenburg.

The business conglomerate has denied any wrongdoing on its part.

Ramesh said it is now becoming even more clear that the true beneficiary of the Dharavi Redevelopment Project are not the people of Mumbai, or of Dharavi, but the ‘PM’s closest friend, aided and abetted by Devendra Fadnavis’.

Despite official and unofficial claims, the reality is that the Dharavi project will result in the Adani conglomerate being given a mammoth 10.5 crore square feet of real estate Transferable Development Rights (TDR) equivalent to 6-7 times the area of Dharavi, the Congress leader claimed.

He said this has been presented in a detailed study by the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee President and Dharavi MLA, Varsha Gaekwad.

TDR is a transferable credit that allows builders who use land, for instance, in approved slum development projects to be compensated with extra construction rights in other areas, Ramesh pointed out.

“We have previously asked the PM to explain how the Adani conglomerate came to win the lucrative Dharavi project after an earlier tender won by a different developer was cancelled and rebid. In the earlier tender, the developer was offered a TDR equivalent to 5 crore square feet, but this has now jumped by 110 per cent, which could give the Adani conglomerate a profit margin as high as 434 per cent,” Ramesh said.

These supernormal profits have been enabled by Fadnavis’ modifications of Development Control Regulations on 5 November, 2018 and 28 September, 2022 that have the effect of handing the Adani conglomerate a huge TDR bank, he alleged.

“By doing away with indexation, these government resolutions give the Adani conglomerate the freedom to sell TDR anywhere in Mumbai, including south and central Mumbai and that too at much higher rates than previously allowed,” Ramesh claimed.

All Mumbai developers will now be compelled to buy 40 per cent of their TDR requirement from the Adani conglomerate at exorbitant rates, he said.

Noting that Dharavi is a very diverse, thriving community of seven lakh people that represents a mini-India, Ramesh said it has a large number of small, independent businesses that generate an estimated Rs 100 crore in annual income to the government.

“Yet documents show that most of these people will be evicted out and only 54,461 slum dwellers and 9,522 residents in chawls and buildings will receive a rehabilitation home within Dharavi,” the Congress leader said.

Furthermore, there has been no independent citywide assessment of what impact the creation of this mammoth TDR will have on Mumbai, in a contravention of prevailing rules and court orders, he said.

“This lucrative revdi for the Adani conglomerate could have a huge negative impact on the quality of life in Mumbai, for rich and poor alike. And the people are well aware of this – a protest against this MegaScam was held on December 16th, led by senior leaders of the Maha Vikas Aghadi and attended by thousands of Dharavi residents,” Ramesh said.

‘This is yet another example of how Modani is getting enriched at the expense of the people of India. And a reminder of how the biggest loot in modern India continues in full public gaze, with the complete support of the PM and the ruling party,’ Ramesh said in his statement.

The Dharavi Redevelopment Project on Saturday said the Dharavi slum redevelopment project was awarded to it by the previous Congress-Shiv Sena coalition government (Maha Vikas Aghadi or MVA) through a fair and open international bidding.

In a statement, a spokesperson of Adani’s Dharavi Redevelopment Project Pvt Ltd (DRPPL) had said financial conditions, including the obligations and incentives, were known to all bidders and had not changed for the awardee.

(Published 17 December 2023, 13:34 IST)

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