The Redevelopment Of Asia's Largest Slum

<p>The Dharavi neighborhood of Mumbai -- home to 600,000 residents -- is set to be razed and rebuilt under a massive redevelopment scheme.</p>
August 5, 2007, 7am PDT | Christian Madera | @cpmadera
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If all goes to plan, by May next year, five consortia of property developers selected by [architect Mukesh Mehta] will begin to raze Dharavi to the ground. In its place will come high-rise blocks for its 600,000 inhabitants, an industrial park for its businesses, and gleaming commercial and residential developments for sale. For Mehta this comes after more than a decade's lobbying. "My motivation originally was purely profit," Mehta says; he proposed the scheme in 1997. "I was going there as a developer." Instead, city authorities appointed him as a consultant. It is India's most ambitious slum rehabilitation: the developers will make over $1.2bn profit, and Mehta will earn a $25m fee."

"Mehta is adamant the inhabitants will benefit. "We're telling the slum-dwellers: 'Instead of the 100sq ft space you are living in, you will have 225sq ft. Instead of sharing one toilet between 1,500, you will have your own toilet, running water, well-lit homes. We will provide schools, colleges and parks.' For somebody to say, in spite of this, people are going to protest, there's something wrong.

But [local workers and residents have nonetheless] joined the campaign to block the scheme."

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Published on Sunday, August 5, 2007 in The Independent
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