Dharavi slums Mumbai
A view of slums in Dharavi area, in Mumbai. Image Credit: ANI

Mumbai: Adani Group, controlled by Indian billionaire Gautam Adani, is the highest bidder in an ambitious project to remodel the world’s largest slum.

Adani bid 50.7 billion rupees ($620 million) while closest rival DLF Ltd. quoted 20.25 billion rupees, SVR Srinivas, metropolitan commissioner at the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority, said by phone.

The Dharavi slum is spread over roughly 620 acres and is sandwiched between the city’s new financial district and its main airport, though it’s as yet unclear how much land the winning bidder could acquire.

“This is one of the world’s biggest urban renewal projects, brownest of the brownfield projects,” Srinivas said. “There are many complexities involved, from class to religion to ethnicity; it’s a maze we have to look through.”

With a population of 1 million, Dharavi is densely packed. It’s about 5km from Mumbai’s key business district that’s home to India’s biggest stock exchange and the local headquarters of JPMorgan Chase & Co., and yet its residents are mostly migrant labourers from villages thousands of miles away who labour for daily wages.

Before the pandemic, Dharavi generated more than $1 billion a year in activity, providing a base for industries from pottery and leather-tanning to recycling and the garment trade.

Representatives for Adani and DLF declined to comment.

“With this, the real estate sector in Mumbai is set for huge traction,” said Abhimanyu Kasliwal, an analyst with Choice Equity Broking Pvt. “Just like the cement sector was re-rated following Adani’s entry, we can expect the same for real estate.”

The mega-project - intended to change the face of the slum - was bedevilled by several problems and failed attempts for a makeover in the past over 15 years since it was first mooted.

The entire project, with an estimated timeline of over 15 years, will see construction of over 10 million sq ft in the locality with wide roads, residential and commercial areas, schools, hospitals, gardens, playgrounds, and other amenities coming up.

- with IANS inputs