As delegates from some of the world’s wealthiest nations descend on Mumbai for a three-day summit this week, they will be spared from the sights of some of the city’s poorest residents.
The city is hosting a meeting of the Group of 20 (G20) countries and giant sheets have been strung up on bamboo poles, sometimes with billboards of the event, in many places of the city.
Curiously, many of the localities covered up are slums and residents said the sheets literally came up overnight ahead of the event that will end on Thursday, alongside a drive to beautify the city.
“Some people were cleaning the neighbourhood. At night, they put up these curtains. We found out about them only in the morning. They said some special guests are coming,” one resident told NDTV.
She said the people who came to clean, only cleaned up the areas next to the roads.
“We have never seen such a cleanliness drive like this in the last 50 years,” said another resident, accusing authorities of trying to “hide the truth” of Mumbai.
On Wednesday, the city’s Gateway of India and Taj Mahal Palace Hotel were seen lit up in a dazzling welcome for the delegates who went on a walk around the posh South Mumbai neighbourhood.
As part of the walk, G20 delegates were seen enjoying slices of Maharashtra’s culture, with some playing the dhol.
They were accompanied by Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and India’s G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant.
Cultural programs showcasing Maharashtra’s folk dance and musical traditions were presented at the Gateway of India.
The first meeting of the Development Working Group (DWG) under India’s G20 Presidency was held in Mumbai on Tuesday.
The three-day Development Working Group meeting will focus on G20 collective actions for accelerating progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and support developing countries in dealing with immediate concerns relating to food, fuel and fertiliser security.