While several political parties are crying hoarse that Dharavi residents be given flats measuring a minimum of 400 square feet post-redevelopment and some are even demanding flats as big as 700 sq ft, the slum-dwellers are running out of patience.
Dharavi residents, mostly slum-dwellers who reside in shanties measuring not more than 60 sq ft, say they would be happy even if they get proper 300 sq ft (carpet area) apartments as promised by the government. All they want is that the redevelopment should happen soon.
Hariram Dilliwala, a Dharavi resident and Secretary of PROUD, an NGO that functions from Dharavi, claimed that residents would be happy even if they get smaller flats because they would definitely be getting something bigger than the current pint-sized shanties they live in.
Dilliwala said, “Many have ground plus one-storeyed structures, which two families share. Even the combined floor space of two shanties wouldn’t be more than 120 sq ft. So if we get 300 sq ft apartment, we would have a living room, a bedroom, a separate kitchen and indoor toilet and bathroom, our condition will definitely improve.”
He added that though the politicians are asking for a bigger space for them, Dharavi residents would be happy with area the government is ready to give. “Our only request is that the government should start the redevelopment soon. We all want to stay in better homes,” Dilliwala said.
Sanjay Shinde, convener of Aapli Mumbai, another NGO that works for redevelopment of Dharavi, claimed that most of the slum-dwellers are now searching for an instant solution to their housing problem. Shinde said, “Everyone here wants redevelopment to happen soon. The area of 300 sq ft is sufficient and people who have an extra storey can buy 100 sq ft at the market rate. Dharavi residents are now fighting for the redevelopment to happen at the earliest.”
Justifying their demand, politicians said they were doing it so that the slum-dwellers could get bigger flats. Arjun Dangle, of RPI (A), had earlier demanded that the slum-dwellers should get flats measuring 600 sq ft. “The government should give slum-dwellers flats measuring at least 500 sq ft. We are associated with the Dharavi Bachao Samiti, along with the Shiv Sena, and the demand is for the slum-dwellers’ benefit,” Dangle said.
MHADA Vice-President Satish Gawai said, “Please hear what the residents of Dharavi have to say.” MHADA is the official body in-charge of excuting redevelopment projects in Dharavi.