Naandika covers startups, tech, corporate and human interest stories. She holds a postgraduate degree from Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM, Bangalore), with specialisation in Business and Investigative journalism. Apart from writing for the magazine, Naandika also handles social media, events and the Blogs section on forbesindia.com. Outside of work, you will find her traveling and exploring new places, volunteering for NGOs, rescuing animals, and mostly spending time around them.
On January 1, Adani Group announced that it had roped in leading infrastructure planning experts to commence the Dharavi redevelopment project in Mumbai. The company has joined hands with architect Hafeez Contractor, US-based design firm Sasaki, UK-based consultancy firm Buro Happold, and some more experts from Singapore. After winning the bid in November 2022, the Adani Group-led Dharavi Redevelopment Project Pvt Ltd (DRPPL) has taken a significant leap forward to revamp Asia's largest slum spread across 600 acres.
Well-known for designing some of the tallest buildings in India, Contractor has been instrumental in introducing the Slum Rehabilitation Scheme. Sasaki and Buro Happold are experts in the field of urban planning and infrastructure engineering.
“It will be one of the best redevelopment projects in the world, and it will be a showpiece to show the world how we can redevelop large slums. Mumbai has more than 50 percent of its people living in slums, so this will be a great redevelopment,” Contractor tells Forbes India. “We have been working on it for quite a long time, and it's not just giving them houses, it's giving them houses of the right size, solving the problem of sanitation, sunlight ventilation, and more.”
The development comes 15 days after a huge protest took place in Mumbai, led by Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray against DRPPL. Reportedly, thousands of protesters marched from Dharavi to Gautam Adani’s office in Mumbai on December 16. According to Thackeray, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has falsely claimed that the tender for the Dharavi Redevelopment Project (DRP) was issued during his chief ministership, while the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government was in power. Opposition leaders also alleged that the BJP government made it mandatory for all builders in Mumbai to buy 40 percent of their transferable development rights (TDRs) from the Adani Group’s special purpose vehicle (SPV) for the redevelopment of Dharavi.
In 2022, Adani Properties emerged as the highest bidder for the project, with an initial investment commitment of Rs 5,069 crore against a base price of Rs 1,600 crore that the lead partner of the SPV was expected to bring in. The entire project is estimated to cost around Rs 23,000 crore. Adani Group holds an 80 percent stake in the DRPPL, and the government of Maharashtra holds the rest.
There are over 1 million people living across 259 hectares in the world’s largest slum, cramped in small houses, sharing one common toilet between 300-odd people. The talk of redeveloping Dharavi has been going on for decades, and there’s uncertainty among residents, along with hope to see things change. A group of social workers have been constantly protesting and demanding to be included in the plan that is being charted out for redevelopment.
“We are not against the development. Who wouldn't want to live with good basic amenities? But when you are doing the redevelopment for Dharavi residents, why are they not asking us or involving us? We have also been demanding a fresh survey to be done by the government, which will give a clear picture of the eligibility criteria,” says activist Sanjay Bhalerao, a Dharavi resident who has been working with the development authority ever since the project was launched by the Maharashtra government in 2004. Bhalerao has scheduled another protest on January 2 for their demands to be heard.