India's opposition parties protest against Mumbai slum overhaul plan

The protesters accuse the government of giving undue favours to Adani in allotting and executing the $614-million Dharavi redevelopment plan

By Reuters

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People shout slogans as they wear banners during a protest against the redevelopment of Dharavi by the Adani Group in Mumbai. — Reuters file
People shout slogans as they wear banners during a protest against the redevelopment of Dharavi by the Adani Group in Mumbai. — Reuters file

Published: Sat 16 Dec 2023, 6:18 PM

Thousands of protesters led by India's opposition parties marched towards billionaire Gautam Adani's offices in Mumbai on Saturday to voice their opposition to his conglomerate's $614 million redevelopment plans for one of Asia's largest slums in the city.

Protesters carried flags and banners with slogans such as "Remove Adani Save Dharavi" from the slum to Adani's premises in the central business district of India's financial capital.

"We are not against development, but the way the Dharavi redevelopment is planned it will only benefit Adani and not the slum residents," Baburao Mane, leader of Save Dharavi Committee (Dharavi Bachao Andolan), said.

The protest comes amid growing political opposition to the state government — ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and allies — for giving undue favours to Adani firms in allotting and executing the slum overhaul contract.

A rival bidder has mounted a legal challenge alleging the Maharashtra government improperly cancelled an original 2018 tender for the slum redevelopment and favoured Adani in giving the new contract.

Dharavi, one of Asia's largest slums, in Mumbai. — AP file
Dharavi, one of Asia's largest slums, in Mumbai. — AP file

Adani and the state government have denied any wrongdoing and say contracts have been awarded as per laws and policies.

Protesters have demanded that both eligible and non-eligible residents of the slum be housed inside the redeveloped area and be given bigger homes of 500 square feet, instead of the promised 300-350 sqft. Some protesters also want the government to take over the slum overhaul instead of private developers like Adani.

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The Maharashtra state government in July approved Adani Group's bid to overhaul Dharavi, which is known for producing leather goods, following years of failed attempts.

The slum, about three-quarters the size of New York's Central Park, featured in Danny Boyle's Oscar-winning 2008 movie "Slumdog Millionaire", and has open sewers and shared toilets. It is located close to Mumbai's international airport and high-rise office blocks housing foreign companies — making a stark contrast to India's development boom.


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