Adani Group enlists global team for Dharavi Slum redevelopment amid growing opposition

Slum shacks in Dharavi, Maharashtra. [Photo: Wikimedia/Kristian Bertel]

Mumbai: Indian billionaire Gautam Adani’s collaboration with Mumbai’s slum rehabilitation authority has engaged a global team for the redevelopment of Dharavi, to transform one of Asia’s largest slums amidst increasing resistance to the initiative from locals.

Earlier, Maharashtra government awarded the 259-hectare Dharavi Redevelopment project to an Adani Group firm. However, residents fear that poor people who depend on local businesses will suffer due to the project.

Dharavi, approximately three-quarters the size of New York’s Central Park, is a densely populated area housing numerous impoverished families in cramped conditions at the heart of India’s financial hub. Many residents lack access to running water and proper sanitation facilities.

The reconstruction of Dharavi, a colossal undertaking first proposed in the 1980s, gained approval from the Maharashtra state government in July, with Adani securing a $619 million bid for the redevelopment spanning 625 acres (253 hectares). This project has been described by officials as “the world’s largest urban renewal scheme.”

The joint venture, Dharavi Redevelopment Project (DRPPL), announced on Monday its collaboration with architect Hafeez Contractor, renowned for various social housing projects, US design firm Sasaki, and UK-based consultancy firm Buro Happold for the redevelopment.

Established in July, DRPPL’s team recruitment is significant amid allegations from a competing bidder that Adani received preferential treatment from Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi’s associates. Concerns also arise among residents about Adani’s ability to deliver given recent financial setbacks.

The Adani group maintains that the Dharavi project was secured through a fair, open, and globally competitive bidding process. The state government denies any wrongdoing. Last month, thousands protested towards Adani’s Mumbai offices, expressing opposition to his conglomerate’s redevelopment plans.

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