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."

Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Sport
Andros Townsend is challenged by Vladimir Volkov
football
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

DT Teacher - Textiles

£100 - £135 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We urgently require a DT t...

Year 1 Teacher for long term roles starting in September

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Ye...

Year 6 Teachers needed for long term and day to day roles

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Pr...

Year 5 Teachers needed for various roles across Berkshire

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Pr...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week