Redevelopment On Horizon For India's 'Recycling' Slum

Plans to redevelop Asia's largest slum will displace over 1 million people, many of whom earn their livelihood recycling Mumbai's trash.

"People from around the country come to the city to fulfil their dreams, but many of them end up in slums; it is estimated that more than half of the city's population live in squalor.

At the heart of the city - surrounded by posh, luxurious skyscrapers - is Asia's largest slum, Dharavi. It spreads over 525 acres (212 hectares) and is home to more than a million people.

Dharavi may seem like any other: full of dirt, filth and sewage, but what maybe an eyesore for most of the city's residents is also a recycling marvel.

"The majority of the place is plastic recycling industry," says Naushad Khan, chairman of Dharavi Businessmen's Welfare Association.

"We also recycle paper and cardboard. If we make a brand new cardboard box the cost is about two dollars but if we reprocess the old one the cost is half."

It's an industry that employs almost 200,000 people.

Walking through Dharavi, home to an estimated 15,000 single room factories, it is difficult to find anything that is not recycled here."

"The residents warn that if the area is redeveloped it will bring problems for not just them but every single resident of Mumbai.

"We bring the entire city's dirt and create a livelihood from it," says one resident."

Full Story: Recycling slum faces redevelopment



Redevelopment of Asia's largest Slum

Prakash M. Apte
Urban Development Consultant

Redevelopment of Dharavi : A Gigantic Fraud

Dharavi is in the heart of Mumbai, just across the Bandra- Kurla Complex (BKC-a fast developing commercial center that has left behind Nariman Point, the current down town of Mumbai) close to the Mumbai domestic and International airports. Mukesh Mehta is an American businessman cashing in on the false and adverse publicity given to Dharavi as a 'slum' by western media; by proposing to raze the existing home-cum workplaces of the poor artisans and cramming them in 225 sq. ft cubbyhole high rise 20 storey buildings to get the land so vacated for commercial exploitation by painting colourful computer generated pictures of beautiful building towers set amidst greenery and playfields!

Is Dharavi really a “Shantytown ”? Despite its bamboo and tin roof structures, it is a unique vibrant, thriving cottage industry complex, the only one of its kind in the world where all the raw materials produced and processes (lining cloth, sewing needles & thread, colours & dyes, pigments, skinning, tanning, cutting & tailoring) of the final product (leather bags, fancy lady's purses- pottery etc.) are carried out at the same location and the value added is very high! Families have been engaged in this industry for generations. The very nature of the process of making fine leather goods-pottery etc. requires large tracts of open land for the activity. This is infact the kind of self sufficient, self sustaining 'village' community that the Father of the Nation -Mahatma Gandhi- dreamt of and wrote about in his books on the path India should take for its development. Those claiming to be the heirs to his philosophy should seriously reconsider the Proposal by Mukesh Mehta for Remodeling Dharavi the American way!

Let us look at the numbers. The entire land of 535 acres will be available free to the developer. Normally, in the suburbs of Mumbai, Floor Space Index (FSI) permissible is 1.00. However, this being treated as a Slum Redevelopment Scheme, the FSI permissible would be 4.5 (Development Control Regulations-DCR- for Mumbai,1991). It means that, in this land of 535 acres, after deducting statutory open space of 15%, total floor area that could be built will be 4.5 times the balance land (aprox.455 acres) ie. 2047.50 acres ! For rehousing 100,000 families in 225 sq.ft. Carpet area (aprox. 330 sq.ft.built up area) apartments, total floor area required would be around 757.50 acres. This would leave a balance of 1290 acres for 'free sale' by the Developer!

Construction of 100,000 apartments for the existing residents at a carpet area of 225 sq.ft. each will not cost more than Rs.250,000 per apartment (based on cost of resettlement in the World Bank aided MUTP II project recently completed).The total cost of rehousing will therefore be Rs. 2500 million or US $ 56.8 million (assumed exchange rate of IRs.44=1US $).

Total land (inclusive of roads, open spaces & amenities) required for such 100,000 apartments in 20 storey buildings at the standards permitted by the Slum Redevelopment Authority (SRA) will be about 126.50 acres leaving the balance of 408.50 acres to be used by the Developer for construction of “Free Sale” apartments. At the current price (based on recent sale of land by Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority-MMRDA) of around Rs.28000 per sq. mt.( prices as in 2007) of FSI (Floor Space Index) the FSI available for sale on the balance land (1290 acres) would fetch approx.Rs.14448 million, or US $ 328.36 m. Deducting the cost of 100,000 flats (US $ 56.80m.) there would be a clear profit of Rs. 11948 million or US $ 271.56 m., a return of 478% on the investment!!

What is 'unique' about this plan is its Machiavellian attempt to deprive over 100,000 families of their traditional livelihood and home-cum work places so that the land so conveniently located across the BKC can 'host' commercial urban development that can ride piggy back on the infrastructure already created in BKC at the cost of the public exchequer and benefit the developers.

Would it not be just, to give land tenure to the existing residents of Dharavi so that they themselves can redevelop the area and upgrade its physical environment through self help efforts by registering ownership to their piece of land and availing institutional finance? YES, but then how can the developers reap a rich harvest of millions of dollars for their personal benefit?

The so called redevelopment of Dharavi therefore, is the biggest and cruelest perfidy perpetrated on the poor of Mumbai in the name of improving the urban infrastructure and converting Mumbai into Shanghai or whichever city is fancied as a “Model” at the time of such fraud!
The least, that you sir, as the only Prime Minister India had with real consideration for the poor, can do is to insist on
remodel this project to provide for

1. lowrise (though high density) development for the existing
families engaged in crafts like making leather goods and
pottery so that each house with ground + first floor has a
terrace and a courtyard that will afford proper space for
their activities,

2. Alternatively, provide stilt + 2 floor small apartments with
the entire ground floor under the building and the terrace
free for carrying on their occupation

(either of the above options are practicable as proved on ground in a demonstration project by HUDCO at Agra and a recent proposal by the Tamilnadu Slum Clearence Board at Marina, Chennai and will not require more than 450 acres of land for hosing 100,000 families including roads and all amenities. Allocating about 35 acres for a central recreation park will leave 50 acres of land free for multi storey parking structures and “free sale” high cost apartments)

3. Provide all social facilities like schools, play grounds,
community & health centres, religious places, shops etc.
EXCLUSIVELY for this population within their enclave

4. Provide marketing facilities for their products

5. Provide multistory parking facilities for visitor’s cars and
goods carriers,

6. A large recreation garden of at least 35 acres,

In short, at least 85% of the land must be used for the present occupants and only 15% (F.S.I.1 only) for the rich free sale apartments. The present proposal by Mukesh Mehata crams the existing occupants in 15% of land and takes away 85% in the guise of economic feasibility!

Even by using only 15% land (80 acres) at FSI 1 total floor space available for free sale ( after leaving 15% for open spaces) will be 68.21 acres or 2,75,850 sq. mts . Sale of this floor space at the current market price of Rs. 1,00,000 per sq. mt. will fetch Rs. 275859 m. Deducting the cost of construction of this space at Rs.20,000 per sq. mt. profit will be Rs.2,20,687.2 m. Taking the cost of development, facilities and housing for 100,000 families at Rs. 10,00,000 per unit the total cost will be Rs. 1,00,000 m. Thus It would give a net profit of Rs. 1,20,687 m. Is that too little for Mr. Mukesh Mehata?

The government that professes being pro poor should therefore advocate or rather insist that at least 85% of the Dharavi land must be used exclusively for rehousing the present occupiers and remaining 15% at F.S.I. 1 only should be allowed to be sold to the rich at market rates.

Prakash M Apte
Urban Development Consultant, World Bank

Redevelopment of Asia's largest Slum

Comment on Mr Prakash Apte's response to Redevelopment of Asia's largest slum:

On 24th April 2008, a blog by Prakash Apte was posted on this site, the content of which I would like to refute. The truth is that Apte’s posting is based on more fiction than fact and he shows virtually no understanding of the subject matter. As the creator of the Dharavi Redevelopment Project and the consultant to State Govt. of Maharashtra for the project below is my response. Further, I would invite Mr. Apte to a public debate in Dharavi should he disagrees with anything contained herein below.

The strategy for Dharavi Redevelopment Project (DRP) has evolved over past 11 years. We have worked at grass root levels with slum dwellers, Social Workers, various NGOs, Citizens of Mumbai, Municipal Corporators, other senior political leaders, Local – MLAs & MPs, Municipal Commissioners, Officers of MMRDA, Officers of MHADA, Urban Development Secretaries, Finance Secretaries, Housing Secretaries, Chief Secretaries, Housing Ministers, Finance Ministers, Chief Ministers of Maharashtra, Ministers of Housing & Poverty Alleviation, New Delhi, Planning Commission of India and Office of Prime Ministers of India. Infact our very first office was in Dharavi just to study the local ethos.

Based on our intense study and research we firmly believe that slum dwellers are very important human resources. It is therefore essential to redevelop Dharavi in a sustainable manner and to provide opportunities for the residents to integrate with mainstream citizens of Mumbai by alleviating poverty and providing them with high quality of infrastructure for Heath care, income generation, education and socio cultural development. The infrastructure should be such that it should be shared by mainstream citizens. However, the slum dwellers would either be subsidized substantially to make it affordable to them.

The strategy has therefore been evolved to enter into Public Private Partnership (PPP) with service providers for Health care, education and socio cultural facilities.

The salient features of DRP are as follows:

• Total land area – 239 ha
• Area available for DRP – 150 ha
• No of slum families / business – 55000 (Not 100,000 as mentioned by Mr. Apte)
• Each slum family will receive residential tenement of 269 sq.ft carpet area (recently increased from 225 sq.ft carpet area) free of cost.

1. Every industrial unit upto 250 sq.ft. will get 225 sq.ft. or its actual area whichever is less.

2. From 250 – 1000 sq.ft. they will get 225 sq.ft. for free and beyond 250 sq.ft. to whatever area is extra they will get area less 10% of that extra area.

3. From 1001 – 1500 sq.ft. they will get upto 1000 sq.ft. as per (2) above and beyond 1000 sq.ft. they will get area with 20% deduction.

4. From 1501 sq.ft. and above they will get upto 1500 sq.ft. as per (3) above and beyond 1500 sq.ft. they will get area with 30% deduction.

• Dharavi was regarded as difficult area by Government of Maharashtra therefore for every square foot of rehab structure the developer would be entitled to 1.333 sq.ft of sale area in open market.
• The entire infrastructure such as roads, water supply, storm water drainage, sewerage etc and amenities infrastructure such as schools, colleges, hospitals, parks, play grounds etc to be provided by developer.
• Maximum cap of FSI 4 to be used on site. Originally FSI was 2.5 (not 4.5), this resulted into generation of Transferable Development Rights (TDR) to other northern suburbs. The TDR generated from DRP would be in excess of 15 million sq.ft. this would have an substantial negative impact on the infrastructure of the northern suburbs.
• Project BUA for slum structure and amenities is 1939641sq.mtrs.
• The developer will get approx. 20 ha to sale (not 522 ha as mentioned by Mr Apte).
• For first time ever based our recommendation GoM will insist to the developers to participate in Global tender and pay cash premium. It is estimated that the GoM will receive premium for approx. Rs. 50000 Million to Rs. 100000 Million (USD 1.25 to USD 2.50 Billion)
• The developer will have to give 15 yrs guarantee for the maintenance of lifts, external paints, external leakages etc. of the slum tenements.


? Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) has declared it as most difficult area and provided higher incentive of 1 : 1.333
? In spite of higher incentive only 12% of Dharavi is developed
? Before DRP no major developers interested in Dharavi
? Local developers built extremely poor quality housing - vertical slums

All stakeholders benefit from the project as follows:

• The slum dwellers have never had better quality of life style in this nature for any slum rehabilitation project anywhere in the world.

• Citizens of Mumbai get to use Dharavi as an important suburb for various activities, so far not available in the city with high quality infrastructure and amenities as per "HIKES"

• Tangible gains to the government approx. Rs. 124000 Million (USD 3.10 Billion)

• Slum dwellers are an important Vote Bank and No Political leader will like his or her Voters re-housed out of the constituency

• Doctors, Educators, etc will participate in the Project in a Public private Partnership where they will provide services to slum dwellers at subsidised rates or free of cost in lieu of which they will receive infrastructure at subsidised rates.

• Readymade project with a potential to readymade project which is technically and financial viable

There is an overwhelming support for the project in spite of small vested interest groups who have been trying their level best to sabotage the project ever since the government has agreed to proceed with it.

The GoM and Government of India are so enthusiastic with the scheme that they are keen to get it going at earliest, in its recent revised housing policy. GoM has decided to redevelop all the slums in the Dharavi way.

Today the scheme is being widely studied by urban planning and design experts from all over the world. We can believe that it is likely to set the future trend and how the slums will be rehabilitated throughout the world.

It is most unfortunate that in spite of being a Consultant to the World Bank, Mr. Prakash Apte has made irresponsible comments based on inaccurate information and also made personal attacks on me without being fully aware about my background.

I have completed my Bachelors of Architecture from M.S. University, Baroda, India and was a regular student at university. I have also completed my Masters of Architecture from Pratt Institute, New York. After having very successful business, industrial and real estate development experiences both India & aboard, spanning in 22 years, for the past 11 years I have dedicated my life completely to slum rehabilitation. I am not an American Citizen in fact I have surrendered my Green Card so that I can further the cause of slum rehabilitation both India and Abroad.

So which aspect of the scheme is the fraud? Is Mr Apte pursuing some vested interest agenda or is he ignorant? If he is pursing a vested interest agenda then no amount of explanation will convince him about the merits of the scheme.

It is despicable that Mr. Apte is glorifying and romanticizing the quality of life and work environment of the Dharavi slums. Perhaps, he should move to Dharavi and experience that wonderful life of Dharavi.

People like Mr. Apte who strongly market poverty perhaps for Agenda which are best known to them. His comments are certainly not for well being of slum dwellers.

If he is ignorant on issues pertaining to DRP and perhaps slums in general then we can only suggest to Mr. Apte “When Ignorance is Bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise.”

Redevelopment of Dharavi

As for the reply of Mr. Mukesh Mehta to my article on Dharavi Redevelopment, my upbringing and culture does not permit me to stoop so low as to retort in the derogatory and abusive language used by him.
I wish he had ,instead of getting personal, addressed the crux of my argument that any redevelopment must be for the residents and not to exploit the land for commercial profit making AND it must take cognizance of their livelihood pattern, providing land area and living space commensurate with it.
I regret that I am also an ex- student of M.S.University of Baroda ,though about 22 years senior to Mr. Mehta.
As for writing letters to those in political power, I have also written to the P.M. and did not even get an acknowledgement.
In the current environment of "market" driven economy "intellectuals" will whither away by the roadside and those who can pull "fast ones" will zoom and prosper.

Prakash M Apte

Dharavi redevelopment

Prakash M. Apte
Urban Development Consultant

I can only say that the language and tenor of Mr. Mukesh mehata reflects his culture. It is rather unfortunate that I also am a product of the M.S.University of Baroda though about 24 years senior to Mr. mehta.
I gladly accept his challange for a public debate on the issue if Mr. mehta promises not to array an army of admiministrators and corrupt politicians by his side in such a debate

Prakash m Apte

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