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Biometrics to be collected from 1M poor Indians for Dharavi slum redevelopment scheme

Biometrics to be collected from 1M poor Indians for Dharavi slum redevelopment scheme

Poor Indians living in the Dharavi slum in Mumbai for the past 24 years will next month be biometrically registered for a housing redevelopment project.

According to Reuters, the registration is part of a survey to identify those who’ll be given new houses in the redeveloped area, as well as those to be relocated to other settlements.

The exercise, to be conducted by Indian commodity trading business Adani Group, in collaboration with the state government of Maharashtra, comes after many years of failed efforts by authorities to redevelop the settlement which spans over 250 hectares.

There now seems to be some greenlight for the project to proceed although some legal details have to be sorted out, the outlet notes. The Dharavi slum is a crammed residential area which provides shelter to thousands of poor Indians. Residents there lack access to vital social amenities such as portable water.

State officials have been quoted as saying that the registration process seeks to identify only those who have stayed in the slum since 2000. The contracting company says it is hiring more personnel to carry out the enrollment exercise which is expected to be conducted in two phases, the first of which is a pilot to last for about a month.

The authorities say the survey, which will be conducted from door-to-door, will identify residents of the slum, the purpose for which they use the premises they occupy, as well as their ownership status.

S.V.R Srinivas, head of the Dharavi Redevelopment Authority, the state body coordinating the project, says the key objective is to ensure that all eligible inhabitants receive houses when they shall be constructed and that no one benefits from the scheme unduly. The last survey of sorts is said to have taken place at the Dharavi slum 15 years ago.

The Adani Group company that won the Dharavi redevelopment project contract worth around $614 million has been criticized by opposition party officials who argue that the bidding process was not transparent.

Reuters mentions in another report that Adani, owned by Indian business tycoon Gautam Adani, has established a partnership with a number of companies for the project including Hafeez Contractor, an architecture design company; Sasaki, a US interdisciplinary architecture enterprise and UK engineering consultancy Buro Happold.

The Adani project appears to be a duplicative data collection project. One similar undertaking for the biometric registration of marriages in the State of Bengal has faced criticism.

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