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No more slums - July 18, 2009. Times Property (Times of India)
As we move towards completing a decade of the new millennium in the next year, let's hope we can transform into a city of open spaces and modern and futuristic buildings

At the cost of sounding repetitive, I have to say that the demand still exists and is growing in the home buying segment. It is the selling price in most locations that is the hindrance. Sellers and developers will take time to come around and it would be the result of not having sold that would lower their expectation. None of this will happen overnight. It's a process and once again this is applicable in locations with large supply and the effect will trickle down to all locations in the next few years to come.

For developers, the 'residential segment' remains the hot favourite when it comes to taking something new to develop. The logic is that, for a home there is always a buyer and I agree. The only restraint that should be used is not developing something that has no future as a location. For example, a location surrounded by slums is not favourable for a mid to high-end residential building but would perhaps make a good low cost housing project. The mid to high-end buyer will have choices and would usually opt out from such a location. An office building might work better too in the long run provided there is connectivity for all. country? I guess so! I often wonder even if half of the promises made during political rallies were kept when elected, we would be a different India. 

With the slowdown, one would see that slum redevelopment would take the biggest hit. I am sure this has happened with you too when you meet an expat here in India or met a foreigner during your international holiday this year; the introduction to an Indian especially if you are from Mumbai is "I watched Slumdog Millionaire." Trust me, everyone second person I met during my holiday in USA said that either to my wife, my son or me. While we are all aware that it is a reality that stares at us daily, is that how we are perceived as

The government does expect private players to develop and rehab the slum folks but with clear title land or society redevelopment being available at attractive prices everything else would take a back seat. The ambitious Dharavi redevelopment might just remain on blue print once again unless the government, both state and central, make a sincere effort in living its dream. I think the government can easily rehabilitate the current occupants and create land for developers. I don't see any developer in today's time wanting to take the onus of rehab. The risk element is high especially when money has become dearer, cost of funds higher and revenues sluggish. 

It is ironic that with the right political will, how much the government can achieve. If you look at the road widening initiatives by the municipality at Juhu Lane and the link road from Malad to Dahisar which were all 'slums on land earmarked for roads' it is commendable what they have achieved. Juhu Tara road was an eye opener for me of how once decided, there is no stopping the government from doing what they want. 

I think besides providing better living for slum folks, Dharavi and many more slum projects can easily be converted into low cost housing projects by government bodies. It has to be a not for profit initiative. Today, an office peon, a driver or barber/stylist drawing anywhere from 8000 to Rs 20,000 a month has to look at Vasai or beyond for a home. With complete dependence on trains one cannot push more population into just one region. Locations that can have low cost housing like Dharavi, slums at Santacruz east and west provide easier commuting options and allow fair human traffic distribution

With the slowdown and slack in demand for slum redevelopment, I see a great opportunity for the government to do what it should be doing especially having been re-elected. This is the time to keep promises and action. In the next five years we can become the city we dream of living in, only if the state and central government both stay committed. It is unfair that in spite of being the highest contributor to the central revenue (taxes) Delhi gets everything done at almost the press of a button and here in Mumbai in spite of being capable we depend on World Bank aid… Next year in 2010 we would complete a decade in the new millennium and I hope in the next decade we do not have a sequel to 'Slumdog Millionaire' but witness the Shanghai kind of revamping from a city of slums to city of open spaces and modern and futuristic buildings.