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Prince charming leaves Charles behind
R Swaminathan in Mumbai | November 05, 2003 20:23 IST
Last Updated: November 05, 2003 21:26 IST
The British are generally punctual. And Prince Charles did not disappoint the motley crew of journalists, policemen and slum dwellers gathered in Dharavi on Wednesday afternoon. He arrived on dot at 12:45 pm.
The Prince of Wales was in Asia's biggest slum cluster to inaugurate the Suryodaya Cooperative Housing Society building -- an example of how community participation can change the face of slums.
Just a couple of years back unruly hutments of all shapes and sizes jostled with each other in the area where the multi-storey Suryodaya building stands today.
The slum rehabilitation project, of which Suryodaya Cooperative Housing Society is just a small part, is supported by the Department for International Development in partnership with the Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres and UK-based Homeless International.
Together, they have a programme called Community-led Infrastructure Finance Facility. Chief Executive of Homeless International Ruth McLeod told rediff.com, "CLIFF is a micro-credit initiative. Like banks, people can open accounts in this instance with SPARC and deposit their money. The money is managed by the community and is used by it for development projects."
SPARC director Sheela Patel explained the slum rehabilitation project thus: "We first convince people to move out of their hutments. They are then moved into a transit camp and only then are the slums demolished. And on that land we build a house for them."
Asked how SPARC achieved it, Suryodaya project manager Gnanamurthy says, "We took a loan of Rs 10 crore from Citibank. Since the hutments occupy a lot of space and a building less space, any demolition gives us enough space to construct two buildings.
Waseem Bhati, whose company Sarwar Construction Private Limited has been constructing buildings and houses for SPARC, says profit margin is not his aim here.
"I make more than enough in my other projects. This is an activity, which gives me an opportunity to help other people and at the same time help my company acquire engineering skills. For instance, once we had to construct toilets on land that was swampy. But we were still able to build septic tanks and dispose off waste safely," he says.
"I am a builder and I know how to cut corners. But I don't do it. These projects give me great satisfaction," he adds.
On it was written, 'Ospicious Occassion'.
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