Indian billionaire Gautam Adani's plans to revamp Mumbai's famed Dharavi slum - one of the world’s largest urban renewal projects - could offer a blueprint for how to spur investment into sprawling informal settlements. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Mumbai: Billionaire Gautam Adani’s real estate unit received final approval to start the redevelopment of Dharavi, one of Asia’s largest slums that sits in the heart of Mumbai.

A representative of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority, which oversees the project, on Saturday confirmed it was given the go ahead by the Maharashtra state government. A spokesperson for Adani Group declined to comment.

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Adani won the project with a bid of Rs50.7 billion ($620 million) late last year. The slum 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 JPMorgan Chase & Co.

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Mumbai’s 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.

Though Adani’s plans for Dharavi are still opaque, he may transform the slum into modern apartments, offices and malls, extending his foothold in India’s financial capital, where he already runs one of the country’s busiest airports. His involvement has been met with protests from local inhabitants, who are concerned that homes and businesses will be relocated far from the city center. Others fear they’ll be shunted into tiny apartments with poor amenities.

Adani’s ability to find the estimated $3 billion needed for the project has also been questioned.