Indian tycoon Adani aims to transform famous Mumbai slum Dharavi into glitzy hub

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Gautam Adani, the Indian tycoon who controls the port-to-power conglomerate, intends to turn Dharavi, one of Asia’s largest slums that sits in the heart of Mumbai, into a modern city hub after his real estate unit received the government’s approval to start redevelopment.

Adani said he intends to “transform Dharavi into a modern city hub, by supporting small industries and promoting new jobs focused on young people and women, he wrote in a LinkedIn post on Thursday.

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Last week his group won the right to redevelop the area, after posting a bid for 50.7 billion rupees ($618 million) late last year.

Adani wrote that the transformation will be achieved with the help of experts and civil society. The redevelopment is likely to be through a combination of training centers as well as setting up data, research, and development centers, he said.

Gautam Adani

Indian billionaire Gautam Adani addresses delegates during the Bengal Global Business Summit in Kolkata, India April 20, 2022. (Reuters)
Indian billionaire Gautam Adani addresses delegates during the Bengal Global Business Summit in Kolkata, India April 20, 2022. (Reuters)

The billionaire added he plans to create an organized market-place in line with India’s Open Network for Digital Commerce. He did not elaborate.

Adani’s involvement has been met with protests from some political parties and local inhabitants who fear their businesses will be relocated far from the city center leading to job losses.

The controversial slum project is spread over roughly 620 acres (250 hectares) of potentially prime real estate in the financial capital, which is home to more than 20 million people. Dharavi, made famous by the film ‘Slumdog Millionaire,’ neighbors the Bandra Kurla Complex, an upmarket district of shopping malls, embassies and banks, including offices of Citibank N.A and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Indian administrators have struggled for decades to modernize the neighborhood, because of the difficulty of acquiring large tracts of land, attracting investors to a place without stable utilities, and resettling an estimated 1 million people.

Adani appeared optimistic that he would be able to deliver.

“After we are done, if Mike Tyson does visit Dharavi again, he may not be able to recognize the Dharavi he saw earlier but I am sure that he will still find its soul as spirited and alive as ever,” Adani wrote, referring to the boxer’s apparent desire to visit the famous slum along with the Taj Mahal. “God willing, the likes of Danny Boyle will discover that the new Dharavi is producing millionaires without the slumdog prefix.”

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