In the centre of Mumbai, Dharavi stands as one of the most densely populated slums not just in Asia, but in the world. It is home to nearly 58,000 families and approximately 12,000 informal businesses, Dharavi is a busy hub of activity and industry.
For decades, the name ‘Dharavi’ has been used to describe crowded alleys, makeshift homes, and a thriving informal economy, including sectors like leather, textiles, and pottery. The story of Dharavi’s redevelopment began nearly two decades ago when the Maharashtra government imagined transforming this big slum into a planned urban locality.
The blueprint for this transformation has been discussed by various governments, with proposals to build high-rise apartments and modern infrastructure to replace the current slum.
Adani’s Entry and Investment in Dharavi Redevelopment
In a recent development, the Adani Group, an influential conglomerate, has stepped in to turn this vision into reality. Adani has committed to an investment that will bring in a new era for Dharavi after winning the bid for the reconstruction project with an offer of Rs 5,069 crore. With the Maharashtra government’s approval, the project is estimated to require an investment of around $3 billion, with an initial investment of $1.5 billion (approx Rs 12,500 crore) from Adani.
At the centre of the redevelopment project is the creation of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), a tool that will be important in constructing new housing and amenities. The SPV, 80% owned by Adani and 20% by the government, will ensure that eligible slum dwellers receive free housing equipped with essential services like water, power, and sewage systems.
Dharavi spreads across 2.8 square kilometres, with over a lakh individuals contributing to its vast informal economy. The plan is to replace the dense slum with high-rises and improved urban infrastructure, requiring the relocation of 68,000 individuals.
Challenges and Complications
The road to Dharavi’s transformation has been filled with difficulties. Delays have been a constant occurrence, caused by changing political situations and slow decisions Financial concerns were big, with the huge expenses of reconstructing such a densely inhabited area calling the project’s financial feasibility into question.
Finding new homes for all the people and shops in Dharavi is a big worry, and there have been legal fights over how the project will affect the community. It’s a huge job to improve things like water and electricity for so many people without interrupting their daily lives. A fixed seven-year reconstruction period has been a cause of disagreement with stakeholders asking for a period of time of 10-12 years to complete the project. Getting the government, the builders, and the residents to agree on everything is also tricky.
Environmental and cultural concerns had to be carefully addressed as well, to ensure that the redevelopment improved, rather than overshadowed, the energy that Dharavi has always possessed. These issues are not only logistical; they connect with what makes Dharavi both a difficulty and an opportunity for urban development.
The Strategic Importance
Dharavi’s location near important Mumbai districts like Kurla-Bandra and Mahim adds to the commercial value of the project. The redevelopment is not merely about constructing buildings but also about creating a cohesive urban space that can stimulate economic growth.