Mumbai Local

Meet the new homes-owners of Dharavi

Rajni Hari Ediga, takes a selfie on the terrace of her new building. Photos: Ajeet Mahale  

We never thought we would ever live in a flat. Our whole life has been spent in a slum,” says Babu Mandipla with hundreds others sharing the same emotion on Tuesday as they stepped into their flats in an 18-storeyed building built by the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) as part of the Dharavi Redevelopment Project.

Three years ago Sector V was allotted to Mhada for redevelopment. On February 17, it allocated 266 through draw of lots. This was first-ever distribution of homes in Dharavi. For Ratnamma Bhau, who has lived in Shatabdi Nagar for the past nine years, it was a momentous day: “I didn’t think I would get the flat. They’ve been talking about it for so long now.”

The building, the only one built under the Rs16,000-crore Dharavi Redevelopment Plan so far, has 358 flats of which keys to 266 flats were handed over on Tuesday.

“At least 240 families were found ineligible to get flats, of whom 140 have reapplied,” said Chandrakant Dange, Joint Chief Officer, Mumbai Board Mhada.

Many, like Shamshar Ali Nabi, feel the flat will help them get status: “I have lived in a jhopadpatti all my life. This flat definitely will gain me a standing.” Mr Nabi who was born and brought up in Shatabdi Nagar, works as a decorator and is in his final year BCom. “We never thought we would get it. But we got the fruits of our labour,” says Khasimbi Nabi, his mother.

Many haven’t got flats, but Babu Mandipla says there is no ill-feeling or animosity among them. “We have grown up in slums. So we know what their life is and we support them, and will help them get flats,” he says. Mr. Mandipla, along with his mother and four siblings, moved from Matunga Labour Camp to Shatabdi Nagar after the 1991 riots. “Back then we had nothing,” Padma Mandipla, the matriarch of the family, says. “We had no jobs and our house was made of sacks. We worked hard and today we have a flat, my children are employed and married and I have my grandchildren.” One of her grandsons Srikanth, who studies in a nearby municipal school, says, “I’ll miss the friends I had around my home. But I’ll meet them at school.”

As the flats were allotted randomly after a lottery, many of the families find themselves with new neighbours. “But that is life,” says Padma Muthelappa, “You meet new people and you adjust.” She along with her husband, who works for the Railways, and four children have been living in Shatabdi Nagar for two decades. Their flat overlooks a school ground, and getting used to the breeze will take a while; it was something they never got earlier.

Indeed the lack of breeze is the first thing you notice as you walk through Shatabdi Nagar. The second is the size of the tenements in the locality. Sitting in her cramped and crowded flat, Ms Bhau looks back on her life. “I have been like this since birth and I will die poor,” she says. Now 66 years old, she worked as a maid in Dubai for 25 years. “People do all kinds of things to educate their children. I went to Dubai and worked. I could meet them only once in two years. It’s only after my children were educated and my daughters were married that I came back home.” One of her daughters, Santosha, was helping her move. “We are very happy they have got the flats. I just hope that it doesn’t lead to extra expenses and maintenance,” she says. MHADA says that it has made provision for the residents to move their belongings. “However, we have been asked to pay Rs 2,500 for installation of a meter. There is also no provision for storing water. These are a few small things but they all add up in the end. For an old widow like my mother, every rupee counts.”

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2022 4:44:19 PM |

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