Plans to rid Mumbai of slums by 2015
A shot of Dharavi, Mumbai’s biggest slum, a shot I took as we landed in Mumbai.
But that might become something like this:
No, not a pipe dream. The Maharashtra government has planned to make this eyesore a piece of history. Its a Rs 5,600-crore Dharavi Development Project and will give a chance to the residents of the slum to live with dignity. Free houses are to be provided to slum-dwellers and in return the builder gets to develop the rest of the land. Even one tower will free up lots of space and other property can be developed there. The Dharavi project is just one of many. In fact, all the slum dwellers in Mumbai, who make up more than 50% of the population, are to be rehabilitated. Sounds too good to be true?
In fact, the state of Maharashtra is the only state in India to plan such a large-scale slum rehabilitation programme, a programme that will cover more than 2000 slums in the city. Considering the proliferation of slums here they have to I guess.
The plan itself is not new however. The truth is that this grandiose project has not seen too much progress in recent years. Just about 1.20 lakh new tenements have been built so far.
The reasons for the slow going have been that real estate developers have been wary of getting involved in Slum Rehabilitation Projects as “most developers prefer to have a clear title to a land but slum rehabilitation projects mean clearing the land of all encumbrances, itself a long and tedious process.” But now the developers are seeing this as well worth their effort. “A combination of factors, including changes in the policy, access to international venture capital and a paucity of land and skyrocketing realty prices have meant that Slum Rehabilitation projects today attract the biggest of developers.”
So much so that foreign companies like ETA- Ascon of Dubai, and Trikona, an investment fund based in New York are showing interest. A quote from the International Herald Tribune:
So profitable is resettlement that one local developer, Akruti Nirman, has built its entire business around slums, and it is expected to raise $100 million next year in a stock offering that has attracted overseas investors…the moves reflect a surge of enthusiasm for Indian real estate, which was closed to foreign capital until last year. Hundreds of millions of dollars are pouring in from firms like Goldman Sachs to build new malls, apartments and offices, and many stock offerings are planned for next year.
Ofcourse all is not hunky dory. There are reports of alloted apartments being illegally re-sold with connivance of government officials and builders have also faced court cases like in the case of SD Corporation which is redeveloping the slums at MP Mill Compound in Tardeo. But the delay has actually benefited the developer! A news report mentions that real estate prices have climbed so dramatically in the last two years that the builder is now able to sell the apartments at a much higher price than envisaged earlier.
For example, a 3,810 sq feet apartment in Tardeo is reportedly going for Rs 14 crore ($3177485)! In fact office rentals in Worli, an area adjacent to Tardeo are the fifth most expensive in the whole world, higher than New York!
Is it any wonder then that developers are seeing these projects as a way of making their own dreams come true? And if it also makes the dream of the Maharashtra government to make Mumbai slum free by 2015 come true then why not!
(Both photographs are copyrighted to me. The second one is not a model or a sample of an actual slum development scheme but just a representation)
Related Reading: Government officials taking bribes to allow slums
How people live in Dharavi
Corruption in slum rehab project in Mumbai
Reality check on slum development project
Foreign tourists take slum tours