The Battle for India's Largest Slum

Developers see 'brand-new beautiful suburb' near Mumbai; residents beg to differ
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 8, 2008 1:15 PM CDT
Dharavi, the Mumbai slum said to be Asia's largest, seen in this April, 05, 2008, photo, sits on prime real estate area targeted to be developed into high rise buildings.   (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – With the Indian economy booming, developers have their sights on Dharavi, the vast Mumbai slum that sits at the intersection of two popular commuter train lines and conveniently close to the Mumbai airport. Visions of shanty houses and refuse-filled streets replaced by glass high-rise apartments and office parks—"a brand-new beautiful suburb," the plan's architect puts it—have pitted the government against Dharavi's 500,000 residents.

The government's plan would relocate residents who've been there since 2000 to small flats of 225 square feet—smaller than a suburban American garage, the Los Angeles Times reports—and disrupt as many as 10,000 informal businesses that operate in Dharavi's 1-square-mile area. To the architect of the $3 billion redevelopment plan, it's a one-of-a-kind opportunity. "This is the only location in Mumbai where I can bulldoze 500 acres of land and redesign."