Now the slumdogs really are millionaires

The Mumbai district of Dharavi used to be one of the poorest in Asia. But then the developers arrived

Souresh Satrape has received so many offers for his tiny, two-roomed home that they no longer surprise him.

Just a few years ago, his cramped house with a concrete floor set in the middle of one of Asia's largest and most notorious slums may have fetched between 200,000 to 300,000 Indian rupees (£2,600 to £3,900). But in recent weeks, the 32-year-old and his family have been receiving offers for three times that much.

"It's a pukka house, a permanent place. I have been offered 900,000 rupees, but I haven't taken it," he said, adding: "I know the true value. I know that similar houses are being sold for 1.5m rupees."

The Mumbai slum of Dharavi, where parts of the film Slumdog Millionaire were shot and probably one of the most densely populated places on the planet, is undergoing a remarkable property boom. In the last six months, as many as 7,000 of these tiny homes have been bought up, and there are keen and ready buyers for anyone else willing to sell.

The reason for the boom is an ambitious £1.8bn plan to redevelop the overcrowded, ill-smelling slum and turn it into office blocks and apartments. Under the rules of the scheme, those residents who have lived here since before January 2000 will be eligible for free 300-sq-ft apartments on the edge of the new development.

With the area set to become a business hub in a vast city where land is as scarce as silence, the value of such properties will almost certainly soar. As a result, many residents are cashing in on the shanties, selling up to investors and moving out to other parts of the city.

Yet according to the current regulations, those buying properties in the hope of qualifying for a new flat won't be eligible. As a result, officials say they are inundated with people trying to alter details on the deeds of properties they have bought.

"We have observed that people are coming into our office and saying 'Can I change the name that is on the register'," said Dinesh Prabhu, of the NGO Mashal, which has carried out an 18-month survey of Dharavi's 60,000 structures. "We know that so many people are selling their homes to newcomers. Maybe 7,000 have been sold."

Indeed, a recent report says a survey carried out in one of Dharavi's five zones had found that almost 70 per cent of the residents had moved there since January 2000 and therefore ought not to be eligible for a free apartment under the rules of the Dharavi Redevelopment Plan.

Already faced with potential developers dropping out of the scheme because of the economic slowdown, officials overseeing the plan have yet to deal with the problem of who will be eligible for a new flat. The government official heading the project, Gautam Chatterjee, declined to comment.

The uncertainty has created added anxiety for those among the population of 350,000 people squeezed into an area covering just 200 hectares who are looking for something better. Amid the dank, dark alleyways there is little sanitation, few clinics, no privacy and an unavoidable sense of claustrophobia. Remarkably, Dharavi, where director Danny Boyle and his team worked for several weeks, is also very productive. Reports estimate that the area earns £300m a year from cottage industries located in homes and workshops that produce everything from shoes to popadums.

A report by the United Nations Development Programme notes that Dharavi has now been supplanted as Asia's biggest slum by Orangi Township in Karachi. But it describes how chemicals used by local tanners still flow through the open drains of Dharavi, and "outbreaks of malaria, leptospirosis, diarrhoea, dengue and hepatitis are just some of the diseases attributed to poor water and sanitation facilities" in the slum.

Hardly surprising, then, if Dharavi residents see a property boom as a godsend. Nitin Bansode, whose family of five occupies two small rooms in a decaying but still much-envied apartment block, said that before the boom their home was worth around 900,000 rupees. Now they were getting offers for 1.4m rupees. Yet he too was holding firm: "When it's finalised, it will be worth 4m rupees [£51,000]. That is why we don't sell it now."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power