Rates of 10×10-foot hovels can give the poshest areas of Mumbai a run for their money
“STAYING in a shanty may make you look cheap, but buying one sure isn’t.” These poignant words, which came instinctively to a shanty owner in Garib Nagar as he saw his house burn down on Friday, reflect the fleeting nature of life and ownership in the city’s slums at a time when each 10X10 ft hovel costs an average of Rs 16 lakh.
A 10X10 shack in some areas of South Mumbai like Napean Sea Road, Banganga and Colaba can cost upto Rs 30 lakh.
Having heard tale after tale of tragic loss from shanty owners in the fire-affected area, who claimed they had paid Rs 7-8 lakh for a pigeonhole with no amenities, MiD DAY found out the prices of shanties in prominent slum areas in the city and discovered that, in some cases, they are much higher than the price of a
1-BHK apartment in places like Vasai and Panvel.
A 10X10 ft shack in the slum cluster near the airport in Santacruz (East), for example, will cost you Rs 16,000 per sq ft, or Rs 16 lakh. And, despite paying that kind of money, you get no guarantee that you will find the shanty, or even the slum, standing when you go there the next day as was amply demonstrated by the Garib Nagar fire.
A hovel of the same size in Dharavi, Asia’s biggest slum, will cost you no less than Rs 10 lakh, which is expected to rise even further in the coming days as redevelopment talks continue to gather steam.
Prices in Behrampada, Bandra (East), which is one of the most popular slum pockets in the city, are currently close to Rs 15 lakh. In Juhu’s Koliwada, a kachcha hut would set you back by Rs 6 lakh, while a pakka hut will cost at least Rs 10 lakh.
“Shanties in Versova are also selling for as high as Rs 10 lakh. Prices were close to Rs 4-5 lakh two years ago, but they have nearly doubled thanks to the multitude of SRA projects,” said Wahid, a broker who deals in shanties in the western suburbs.
As is true for all real estate in the city, prices of shanties, too, move northwards as one moves south. A 10X10 shack in the slums near Banganga, for example, costs nearly Rs 25 lakh.
“Even in Napean Sea Road, there are slums at the far end of Rungta lane, where a shack will cost you between Rs 25 and 30 lakh. Shanties in Ambedkar Nagar, near the controversial Adarsh building in Colaba, too, command nearly the same price,” said a broker.
In other important areas like Kurla Kamani and the Mahim fishermen colony, a shanty costs around Rs 15 lakh. A shanty near Bharat Nagar, close to the Bandra-Kurla Complex, on the other hand, costs close to Rs 20 lakh.
Brokers say shanties on state government land cost more because their owners are eligible for free houses under the SRA scheme. This does not apply to slums on central government land, like that under the railways or defence ministries.
“Shanties in Garib Nagar cost only Rs 7 lakh because they are on railway land while those in nearby Behrampada cost more than Rs 15 lakh,” said Wahid.
Simpreet Singh, coordinator, National Alliance of Peoples’ Movement, an organisation which fights for the rights of slum dwellers and has been instrumental in exposing several scams, including the Adarsh one, said, “People like to buy shanties on state government land because then they will be eligible for a free house.
This does not hold true for land belonging to the central government. Thus, the people who lost their houses in the Geeta Nagar demolition were not entitled to any houses or compensation.”
Experts attribute the high prices of shanties in the city to the paucity of land, which leaves builders no choice but to offer astronomical figures to shanty owners for the land they are occupying in prime real estate pockets.
Mihir Dhruva, MD, Habitat Group, said, “The scarcity of land in the city is no secret and the unoccupied land available comes under the salt pan category or other such categories which put a lot of constraints on a builder.
This gives shanty owners an edge, because they know the builder has no other option but to come to them. The shanties cost so much because there is a very real chance of getting a financial windfall from their sale in the future. I wouldn’t be surprised if the prices of slums double again in the next few years.”
The entry of private builders in slum redevelopment is also attributed as another reason for the increase in prices. “Builders want to rake in profits and they are aware that slum pockets are veritable goldmines.
They don’t mind paying a lot to shanty owners to get the land as they know that they can make much more money by exploiting it commercially,” said Singh.
The monthly rent of a 10X10 ft hovel in Garib Nagar. This, besides a deposit of Rs 1 lakh.
The approximate price of a shanty at Napean Sea Road
The approximate price of a 1-BHK in Virar
By the law books
Owners of shanties on state government land are entitled for a free house under the SRA scheme as long as they have been staying there from before January 1, 1995.
“Revision of the year to 2000 is still not official. Only slum dwellers who have been staying in the shanties from before 1995 are entitled for a free home. Our demand is that all the slums in the city should be regularised,” said Singh.
Many shanties in the city are two- and three-storeys high and only residents on the ground floor have ownership documents.
However, even though the upper storeys are illegal, compensation is given to people living in them too in case of a mishap.
Every family in Garib Nagar is entitled to the Rs 25,000 compensation announced by the government.
Pankaj Kapoor, Managing Director, Liases Foras, a real estate rating agency, said, “Slums are strategically located and are close to stations and many office areas in the city. Even people earning as much as Rs 25,000 a month sometimes choose to live in slums to avoid commuting from far-off places like Karjat. Electricity, too, is cheap and perks like no maintenance result in huge savings.”