After attending school amidst lush paddy fields in the late 1960s, Suresh Rawal, 61, cannot believe the population explosion and commercial development that has taken place in Malad over past 10 years.
“Despite all the development in certain areas of Malad, many areas remain underdeveloped and slums are mushrooming,” says Rawal, who trades in laboratory instruments and lives in a joint family with his three sons and grand children in a 40-year-old housing society on Marve Road.
The area is now the most populated suburb in Mumbai with 9.46 lakh population. Historically, Malad has been a cosmopolitan suburb with fishermen villages, catholic communities and Gujarati population living in adjacent pockets. Recently, government has built several affordable housing colonies for the lower and middle classes in Malvani area of the suburb. The area is also notorious for severe shortage of potable water, Rawal says.
Rawal and his friends who live in Nilanjana Society, one of the first high rises to come up in the area nearly 40 years ago, feel the infrastructure has simply not matched up. “The width of the roads is the same as it was 40 years ago,” says Sharma, his family friend. “The number of cars has increased several times over, but because of illegal shops or slums even roads with heavy traffic are not widened.”
The Rawal family has observed another new trend, perhaps arising out of the upper middle class population moving closer to Mindspace, the call center hub, which now houses several companies. “Apart from real estate costs going up, the culture of hi-fi shopping has stared,” says Uma Rawal, in her late fifties. “Everyone wants to shop for vegetables to furniture from malls, which sell at much higher costs.”