Posts tagged ‘slum’

29/08/2014

In India, Slum Dwellers Move Into High Rises – Businessweek

Indian developer Babulal Varma’s job requires the human touch. The company he co-founded, Omkar Realtors & Developers, specializes in coaxing Mumbai’s slum dwellers from their hovels, then bulldozing the slum and erecting a mix of luxury condominium towers and free new homes for the slum dwellers on the cleared land. Omkar has completed 12 projects, rehousing 40,000, with 12 more in the works, making it the most successful business in this niche. Mumbai’s slums still house 6.5 million people.

One of Omkar’s luxury high rises, under construction

In one slum several years ago, an old woman wouldn’t leave her home. Omkar was keen to develop the site into a $1 billion complex of six luxury high rises and modern housing nearby for the slum dwellers. As Varma recounts it, he visited her and learned that the woman wanted two free apartments, not one. The woman lived with her two sons and their wives in a 90-square-foot shack. The wives argued constantly. Yet the law regulating slum redevelopment says a family that proves residency since 2000 can get only one new, 269-square-foot home on the same land.

Varma came back with a piece of paper showing a line drawn through the unit they’d be moving into, with a second door cut into the hallway. The wives could live separately, he explained. Agreement came in 45 minutes. “If you can understand their problem, if you can understand their issues, all the issues are very small, like a peanut, but to them this is the biggest thing,” says Varma, who cites karma as his operating philosophy as he sits beside an incense-burning Hindu altar.

By law, Omkar and other developers must secure the consent of 70 percent of a slum’s inhabitants before a project can go forward. Slum dwellers who have lived in the same spot since 2000 hold rights to the land but can sign them over to developers.

Omkar (the long form of the Hindu mantra “om”) contributes to the city’s efforts to get its slum dwellers into the middle class. “There is all-round social upliftment as people move from slums into proper apartments,” says Nirmal Deshmukh, chief executive officer of the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA), which selects the developers for the slum projects.

Since her marriage to a postal worker 13 years ago, Swarangi Pingle had lived in a 90-square-foot bilevel hut with her in-laws, her husband’s two siblings, and her daughter, now 11. On May 1 she and her family became homeowners in the development where Varma persuaded the old woman to go along. Pingle’s home on the top floor of a 23-story building has plenty of ventilation and sunlight. In the slum, Pingle would wait an hour to fill water jugs at the communal tap and for her turn at the common toilet. “This is much better,” she says as she shows off the private bathroom, kitchen sink, and aqua-painted living room. The new homes allow space for children to study, she says: “I may have married into a slum, but my daughter won’t go back to one.”

via In India, Slum Dwellers Move Into High Rises – Businessweek.

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01/04/2014

Dharavi’s once-booming leather industry losing its edge | India Insight

A busy street in Asia’s largest slum Dharavi leads to a quiet lane where Anita Leathers operates its colouring unit. As children play near shops that sell everything from mobile phones and garments to raw meat and sweets, the mood at the leather unit is sombre.

The leather business is one of the biggest contributors to the Mumbai slum’s informal economy, estimated to have an annual turnover of more than $500 million. About 15,000 small-scale industries, spread over an area of 500 acres, deal in businesses such as pottery, plastic recycling and garment manufacturing.

But the leather trade has been hit hard by increasing competition, an influx of cheap Chinese goods, rising raw material costs and labour shortages in recent years, leading to a decline in demand and dimming prospects of the once-flourishing business.

At Anita Leathers, which has been colouring and supplying leather sheets to merchants in Mumbai for more than three decades, annual sales fell from 5 million rupees ($83,000) in 2007 to 500,000 rupees ($8,300) last year. This has forced its owner Babu Rao to put some workers on paid leave.

“In every season our sales are falling, there is no business,” said Rao as he chewed tobacco in his Dharavi office where samples of coloured leather were displayed on the wall. “Even retailers are suffering. If customers come, they will buy bags; if bags are not sold, who will buy leather from us?”

Dharavi has earned its distinction among slums because of the entrepreneurial skills of its estimated 1 million residents. While no official statistics are available for the slum, census data shows India’s slum population grew by a quarter to 65 million between 2001 and 2011. Critics have disputed these numbers.

Leather production was one of the first industries to be established in Dharavi when Muslim tanners migrated from Tamil Nadu to Mumbai in the 19th century. But they had to move to the outskirts because the manufacturing process was considered unsuitable for the growing business centre in south Mumbai, according to a 2010 book RE-Interpreting, Imagining, Developing Dharavi.

Leather manufacturing, polishing, colouring and retail became dominant after tanneries were banned in 1996 because of pollution concerns. Still, most of these businesses are struggling.

Also affecting trade is India’s slowing economic growth, rising interest rates and high inflation, which have weakened consumer sentiment in Asia’s third-largest economy.

via Dharavi’s once-booming leather industry losing its edge | India Insight.

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04/01/2014

Tiny Loans for Tiny Homes – India Real Time – WSJ

From what began as a small experiment helping slum dwellers buy homes in Mumbai, Micro Housing Finance Corporation Ltd. has grown into a multi-million dollar business making loans across the country.

The Mumbai-based company, which gives low-income households loans to buy homes, now operates in more than 15 cities, with Coimbatore, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, being the most recent addition just last month.

“Housing finance companies focus on serving the top 3% to 5% of the population because it’s easier and cheaper,” to give big loans to rich people, said Madhusudhan Menon, chairman of Micro Housing Finance. “No one wants [low income] customers who don’t have documentation of their income.”

The lack of home loans to those most in need of them is one of the main reasons more than 90% of India’s acute housing shortage of around 19 million units falls on the urban poor, according to a report released by real-estate consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle.

For most of the urban poor, owning an apartment with reliable electricity or even a water connection is out of reach even if they have a regular income because banks refuse to give the poor housing loans.

More than 41% of the population of the megacity of Mumbai lives in slums, defined as residential areas unfit for human habitation due to dilapidation, over-crowding, poor ventilation and lack of sanitation facilities, according to government estimates. That figure could be brought down sharply if builders constructed affordable housing for the city’s hardworking poor and housing finance companies gave them long-term home loans.

via Tiny Loans for Tiny Homes – India Real Time – WSJ.

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