Slum dwellers stage protest for land in Mumbai

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Mumbai, Sept 24 : Residents demanding 400-sq-ft tenements in Dharavi, often described as Asia's biggest slum, took to the streets on Tuesday against a decision to restrict their dwellings to a space of 300-sq-ft.

The slum is the focus of a looming showdown as municipal authorities and developers seek to raze it to the ground and replace it with office towers, luxury apartments and shopping malls.

Families that can prove they have lived in Dharavi since 1995 would be entitled to a free apartment in the same area, but the new dwellings would be tiny, just 300 square feet, about the size of a living room.

The state's main opposition Shiv Sena party said they would continue their protest till their demand is met.

"I read in newspaper that the officials, chief secretary, housing secretary and head of the development authority have decided that the land in access to 300 square feet cannot be allotted. So until our demand of 400 feet (per house) land is not met, we will continue our protests," said Manohar Joshi, a Shiv Sena leader.

The project to re-develop the roughly two-square-km warren of brick and corrugated iron rooms into a high-rise housing and commercial complex is expected to take at least seven years to complete and could eventually be worth up to ten billion dollars in property sales.

Dharavi has about 5,000 single-room factories and hundreds of cottage industries that together have a turnover of an estimated one billion dollars.

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