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Old Posted Apr 23, 2007, 3:17 AM
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Join Date: May 2004
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Dharavi makeover now a model for the world
Quote:
Kavitha Iyer

Mumbai, April 20: THAT global eyes and camera lenses are focusing on Dharavi is not new—from The Chicago Tribune to BBC News, everybody has been visiting. Still, if there remained any doubt about the intense world interest in Dharavi’s future, these can now be put to rest. The May 2007 issue of National Geographic has put Dharavi on the cover, in a feature titled “India’s Shadow City”.

Reporting on the poor living in “some of India’s hottest real estate”, National Geographic writer Mark Jacobson and photo-journalist Jonas Bendiksen tell an evocative story of the lakhs residing in “the most diverse of slums, arguably the most diverse neighbourhood in Mumbai, India’s most diverse city”.

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The article chronicles the slum’s quirky people and their impossible fantasies, their politics and their festivities. It also recounts some continuing, defiant opposition to the redevelopment plan to rehouse 57,000 families in 225-sq-foot homes, to be built by investing real estate developers.

Meanwhile, the project management consultant Mukesh Mehta is in New York, attending the mid-year meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, where he’s sharing experiences with global icons from fields including poverty alleviation and housing. “This is only the beginning,” he said, speaking to Newsline from the Lincoln Center, NY.

“I’m fascinated by the idea that we can make this model work elsewhere. I think India could just be a torchbearer for slum rehabilitation the world over.”
Already, he says, propelled by the keen interest Dharavi has generated, other Indian states’ administrators have invited him, proposing to embrace the same strategy for their big cities.

Just after making plans to meet the Nat Geo team for lunch, perhaps in Brooklyn where one of them lives, Mehta—described in the feature as an urban planner and architect, who returned to Mumbai after years of building top-end mansions in the US, and also somebody with the “fanciful” idea of golf courses and a stadium in Dharavi—says the potential to replicate the Dharavi model is “vast”. Clearly, the interest is not just in a big real estate killing—Asian planners faced with slums and urban housing challenges are looking at what could become a model.

Back in Mumbai, the expressions of interest documents will be released in weeks, officials promise.
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