11/30/2022, 20.08
INDIA
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Mumbai’s Dharavi slum redevelopment project goes to ultrarich Adani

Modi’s oligarch friend, one of the richest men in the world, has won the mega-contract to redevelop the huge neighbourhood home to more than 60,000 slum dwellers. The sweet deal is worth a fortune given the land value. Meanwhile, Hindu nationalists back the Adani group over the controversial Vizhinjam port development (Kerala), playing the religious card against the protest of fishermen backed by the local archdiocese.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Modi’s oligarch friend is cashing in on the Dharavi redevelopment, a mega project involving a Mumbai slum, one of the largest in the world.

The Adani Group won the bid yesterday in a new competition after the original tender was cancelled. Dubai-based infrastructure firm Seclink Technologies Corporation had won the first time.

The Adani Group is the same conglomerate embroiled in the disputed Vizhinjam port project challenged by local fishermen with the support of the local Catholic archdiocese.

With a staggering offer of 50 billion rupees (about US$ 615 million), the Adani Group beat DLF, the other bidder.

In Mumbai, the Dharavi project has been talked about for more than 20 years with huge  interests at stake.

The slum, which covers an area of 2.8 square kilometres, is located a stone’s throw from the Bandra-Kurla Complex, India’s most exclusive residential-cum-business district.

The Dharavi redevelopment project would involve the construction of a group of high-rises with improved urban infrastructure.

The plan provides for the resettlement of 68,000 people, including slum dwellers and local businesses, but this still has to be worked out.

Changes in Maharashtra’s government influenced the award process.

The idea of redevelopment began in 1999 under the BJP-Sena alliance government, which decided to classify the entire Dharavi area as undeveloped.

In 2011 the government cancelled all tenders and drew up a master plan.

In 2018, the BJP-Sena government formed a special purpose vehicle for Dharavi and notified it for the redevelopment project. Later, global tenders were invited.

Although Dubai-based infrastructure firm Seclink Technologies Corporation turned out to be a successful bidder in January 2019, the tender was not awarded following the decision to include Railway land in the redevelopment project.

Since then, the BJP came back to power in Maharashtra. The local government under Chief Minister Eknath Shinde claims that the problems with the central government over land ownership have been resolved.

A new tender was issued and Gautam Adani’s conglomerate won. Thanks to his friend Narendra Modi and privatisation, he was able to build an empire in mining and infrastructures and is now among the richest people in the world.

Meanwhile, Hindu nationalists held a rally at the disputed Vizhinjam port development in Kerala, demanding that the Adani Group start work, dismissing the protests of local fishermen worried about its impact on the environment and their livelihoods.

This action is clearly designed to give the issue a religious connotation after the Catholic Archdiocese of Thiruvananthapuram came out in support of local fishermen in the wake of last weekend’s protests.

According to a long-established practice by right-wing, anti-Christian Hindu nationalists, social media are awash with stories about "foreign agents” opposed to the development of a new large-scale Indian port.

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