Adani’s Ambitious Dharavi Redevelopment Faces Doubts and Allegations

MUMBAI (Reuters) – Concerns are on the rise among Dharavi’s residents as Indian billionaire Gautam Adani’s proposal to transform the massive slum into a modern living space raises questions about his ability to deliver, compounded by recent financial setbacks and allegations of preferential treatment from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s allies.

Dharavi: A Transformation in the Making

Dharavi, a sprawling slum area three-quarters the size of New York’s Central Park, has drawn global attention since its depiction in the film “Slumdog Millionaire”. Despite its proximity to Mumbai’s business hubs, the slum’s rudimentary conditions, open sewers, and shared toilets stand as a stark contrast to India’s rapid development.

Adani’s Redevelopment Blueprint

Gautam Adani’s Adani Group has taken the lead in the ambitious project to revamp Dharavi. Backed by a $614 million contract from the Maharashtra state government, the plan aims to demolish the unsanitary living conditions and erect new towers on state-owned land to provide improved housing and facilities. This endeavor is projected to attract an investment of up to $12 billion, with potential returns of up to $24 billion in development rights.

Residents’ Concerns and Eligibility

The redevelopment project offers free homes to those who resided in Dharavi before 2000, primarily ground-floor residents. However, around 700,000 inhabitants from mezzanine and upper floors have been deemed ineligible and may be offered units up to 10 kilometers away. Concerns regarding potential up-front fees or higher rent for these people have been voiced as a result.

A Challenging Time for Adani

The timing of this project is significant, given the recent challenges faced by Gautam Adani. Once ranked as the world’s third-richest person, Adani’s fortunes took a hit when allegations by U.S. short seller Hindenburg led to a $150 billion reduction in his group’s market value. Residents of Dharavi have voiced apprehensions related to Adani’s financial stability in light of these issues.

Legal Hurdles and Political Allegations

Adani’s plan also faces legal opposition from SecLink Technologies Corporation, a rival bidder. The consortium alleges that the bidding process was manipulated to favor Adani, with the involvement of political influences. While the current state government is contesting the allegations, the legal challenge poses a significant hurdle for Adani’s vision.

A Cloud of Uncertainty

The fallout from the Hindenburg report, along with regulatory scrutiny, has sowed mistrust among some Dharavi residents. Adani’s financial challenges and the uncertainty surrounding his plans have led to doubts about his ability to complete the redevelopment successfully.

Moving Forward

Despite these challenges, Gautam Adani remains resolute. The redevelopment project presents colossal challenges, but Adani envisions a transformed Dharavi that could potentially yield “millionaires without the slumdog prefix.” Efforts will be made to minimize disruptions during the overhaul, yet uncertainties persist among residents about their future in the face of this ambitious transformation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *