Maharashtra government defends transparency of new tender for Dharavi slum redevelopmenttext_fields
Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has submitted an affidavit to the Bombay High Court, asserting that the new tender issued in 2022 for the Dharavi slum redevelopment project in Mumbai was conducted transparently, without showing any undue favour to the highest bidder, Adani Group.
The government was responding to a petition filed by the UAE-based company Seclink Technologies Corporation, which had challenged the government's decision to award the project to Adani Properties Private Ltd.
In 2018, the petitioner emerged as the highest bidder with a Rs 7,200 crore bid. According to the Maharashtra government, it was cancelled due to many factors including the pandemic and the Ukraine war.
The affidavit, filed by the deputy secretary of the state housing department, refuted the allegations made by Seclink Technologies Corporation, emphasising that the cancellation of the old tender was carried out through a proper process and that the new tender was floated transparently. The affidavit also dismissed claims of political motivation behind the cancellation of the old tender, labelling them as "unfounded and reckless allegations."
A division bench of the Bombay High Court, comprising Chief Justice D K Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor, is scheduled to hear the plea on Thursday.
The government's affidavit underscored the importance of the Dharavi redevelopment project as a crucial public-purpose initiative that aims to improve the living conditions of thousands of individuals currently residing in substandard environments. It further stated that any attempt to derail the project should be thwarted, as delays or stay orders could hinder the execution of the redevelopment, which is of vital public importance.
The affidavit highlighted that the new tender process attracted more bidders than the previous one, and it refutes the allegations made by Seclink Technologies Corporation, describing them as "far-fetched and implausible."
The Dharavi Redevelopment Project involves the redevelopment of a 259-hectare area, and Adani Group secured the project with a bid of Rs 5,069 crore in the 2022 tender process. The government's decision to cancel the 2018 tender and issue a fresh one in 2022 with additional conditions was challenged by Seclink Technologies Corporation.
The government's affidavit further explained that the new tender takes into account the rehabilitation and rehousing of non-eligible individuals (7 lakh people), making the redevelopment process more inclusive and complex. Unlike the previous tender, the new one accommodates non-eligible slum tenements for rehabilitation under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna.
The affidavit concluded by asserting that the new tender was issued with revised terms and conditions in a bona fide manner, with approval from relevant authorities. It emphasised that the terms and conditions of the tender fall within the sole domain of the authority and that any party, including Seclink Technologies Corporation, could have participated by complying with the terms and conditions.
The legal proceedings continue as the court reviews the submissions from both parties.